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Restaurant tests drone servers in Singapore

Tue 10 Feb 2015

Autonomous drone waiters have been unveiled this week in Singapore. The robotic staff members carry dishes and drinks back and forth from the kitchen to the customers to lessen plate-laden legwork.

Designed and built by Singapore-based startup Infinium Robotics, the drones have taken over music bar and restaurant Timbre @ The Substation. According to the robot maker, the drones’ appearance this week is an experiment before a larger roll-out of the flying machines towards the end of the year.

The drones have not been created to replace human waiters, carrying the dishes with serving staff still on hand to attend to the restaurant’s diners. The robots do not deliver directly to the customers’ tables, but instead from the kitchen to a drop-off point where the human waiters will pick up the orders and serve them at the correct table.

Infinium believes that the introduction of catering drones will save a lot of waiter legwork needed in restaurants and bars, allowing these venues to dedicate more time to 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,” said Infinium CEO Woon Junyang.

Fully autonomous, the drones can detect objects, are able to avoid collisions with other drones, and can even fly in formation.

Once rolled out over the restaurants five locations later this year, the drone servers are expected to have cost the chain a “low seven-figure sum,” although no exact figure has been disclosed.


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