Singapore got its first taste of drones working as waiters this week as a restaurant in the city unleashed its robotic staffers. The autonomous drones (pictured) fly back and forth from the kitchen, carrying drinks or dishes to the restaurant’s customers.
The drone waiters, made by Singapore-based Infinium Robotics, were serving customers at Timbre @ The Substation, a live music bar and restaurant.
An Infinium Robotics spokesperson explains to Tech in Asia that this is an experiment ahead of rolling out the autonomous flying robots for real at that venue towards the end of the year.
These drones are not meant to replace humans – not yet, anyway. The plate-carrying drones do all the legwork that serving staff usually do, but the waiters remain on hand to attend to customers. The drones won’t fly to your table – instead, they zoom from the kitchen to a drop-off area where the flesh-and-bones staff will pick up the order and take it to the right table.
Woon Junyang, Infinium Robotics’s CEO, says this allows a restaurant to spend less time on running around and more on customer service. “The robots will bring the food from the kitchen to the dining area and waiters will just need to wait for the food to ‘arrive in style’ before taking the food from the robots and serving it to the customers at the table. This is achieved without the waiters leaving the dining area at all, thereby increasing the interaction time between the waiters and the customers. The waiters will also always remain in sight of the customers, to be ready to attend to the customers’ every need – no more “disappearing” into the kitchen to collect the food,” Woon explains.
The drones are fully autonomous and can avoid stationary objects as well as detect the movements of other drone waiters nearby. If so desired, they could even fly in formation.
Once launched full-time later this year, these robot servers will have cost the restaurant “a low seven-figure sum” to cover its five locations. No exact figure is provided.. It may be a gimmick for now (and probably a popular one), but it also gives us a sneak peak of how we’ll work alongside drones, robots, and a variety of autonomous vehicles in the coming years. Read more…