The Coca-Cola Journey Japan editorial team could hardly wait to go and see the Coca-Cola robots, known as CoRoBos, in action at Universal Studios Japan® in Osaka.

What are these CoRoBo robots, which came from the U.S.? Before meeting the "real thing", we spoke with Takashi Nishiyama, an engineer for Coca-Cola Tokyo Research & Development Company, which is providing technical support for CoRoBo.

Takashi Nishiyama

Takashi Nishiyama says he usually works on vending machine development. This is the first time he has provided technical support for robots.

“A Coke finds you, instead of you finding a Coke.” CoRoBo was created by the equipment innovation team at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. Usually, customers who think “I’d like to have a Coca-Cola” go in search of the product, but this is an attempt to reverse the approach. Since CoRoBos search out the customer, they need to have freedom of movement and the ability to display emotions such as happiness or sadness using LED lights. They also speak, with a robot-like voice. They are equipped with a camera and communication function, photographing the customer and sending images to their smartphone.

Another characteristic of the robots is the round hole in their belly, where cans and PET bottles are dispensed. Nishiyama addresses the CoRoBo as “boy,” endearingly treating him as his own child. 

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan®

Universal Studios Japan® (Konohana-ku, Osaka City), which celebrated its 15th anniversary in April 2016, is hosting events and attractions on a theme of “RE-BOOOOOOOORN! Let’s make it over-the-top!” Since September, the CoRoBos stationed in the Happiness Café®, are helping to celebrate the 15th anniversary.

Since we were visiting the park, it seems appropriate to describe some of what we saw.

Drive-In

The park was crowded even though we visited on a weekday 

While heading towards Happiness Café, we came across a hamburger restaurant, Mel’s Drive-in®, recreated from the 1973 film American Graffiti. Inside, it oozes 1950s ambiance and makes you feel like you've wandered into the world of an old movie. The must-see attraction, which is lit up at night, features cool retro cars outside.

retro 1950s goods

The interior décor and the posters are all retro 1950s goods

Mel's Drive-In

It has a more mature appeal at night-time (photo courtesy of Universal Studios Japan®) 

Continuing from Mel’s Drive-in along the harborside road, we saw a trolley-style food cart and heard lively voices. It seemed that this place was doing more than just selling turkey legs. If you play roulette and the wheel stops on WIN, your purchase is upgraded to a meat-wrapped turkey leg. Surely one person couldn’t finish this? Truly “over-the-top.” 

Trolley Treats

The size of the meat-wrapped turkey leg was overwhelming! 

Nearby, there was a giant Coca-Cola vending machine. This was also “over-the-top.” At Coca-Cola Journey, we have reported on many vending machines, but we've never seen one like this. A high jumper could push the buttons themselves, but otherwise, you probably should resort to the method shown in the photograph.

Vending machine

Though not shown in this photo, there was a long line-up for the vending machine. There is probably no other vending machine with such a long queue!

Friends, families, and couples somehow managed to get themselves a Coca-Cola, with a crowd of onlookers.

Beyond that, we could see the Happiness Café, where the CoRoBos were located. The building is a portside warehouse whose exterior has been renovated in a pop-art style, making it stand out even in the colorful San Francisco area.

Happiness Cafe

Your eyes are naturally drawn to the giant Coca-Cola contour bottle.

CoRoBo

The design of CoRoBo uses the same red and white as the Happiness Café®.

The CoRoBos appear twice daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to entertain visitors. The signal that the show is about to start is when the crew calls out “Are you happy? Show us that you’re happy.” The person who can impress the CoRoBo the most with a happy pose is chosen as the “Happiest Guest” and receives a Coca-Cola from the CoRoBo. 

See the actual show in video here.

They are more agile than we expected. At times, they even dance in synchrony.

Yosuke Takada, Food Marketing representative from the Food Service Division at USJ Co., Ltd., which designed the show, described his thoughts about it.

Yosuke Takada

Yosuke Takada, of USJ Co., Ltd. He says that he “wants to entertain visitors through food.”

“At Universal Studios Japan, visitors can see various shows within the attractions and in the streets, but the CoRoBo is the first time that visitors could encounter a robot! The idea behind Happiness Café is to entertain visitors. The crew assembled here are lively even by park standards, and the CoRoBo work together with them to entertain guests. During show-time, you can hear many people in the crowd calling out “kawaii” (cute), and children often hug the robots. The crew who make the show come alive are not specialized entertainers, but are crew who usually work in the café. It’s only on for three months, but they are learning more each day, and improving the show, so it should be even better by Christmas time.”

The CoRoBo show is only on for a limited time. Once it finishes, the CoRoBo will return to the U.S.