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The restaurant Timbre @ The Substation, a live music bar and restaurant in Singapore, tested autonomous drones to transfer food from the kitchen to a wait area where waiters would then serve the customer. The drones can:

  • Detect stationary objects
  • Avoid other drones
  • Fly in formation

The text was conducted in February, 2015 and it is expected the drones will be fully launched later this year. The drone waiters were created by Singapore-based Infinium Robotics. They are not intended to replace waiters but allow restaurants to maintain efficiency without the need for additional staff which would otherwise close the restaurant. The economics of this are not certain as the cost of the robots across the five restaurant locations is a “low seven-figure sum” per techinasia.com. The drones in the referenced test video are noisy, however. According to gdgtarena.com, the drones can carry up to 2kg of food and are guided by infra-red sensors. According to eater.com:  “Singapore’s government recently limited the number of foreign workers that could immigrate into the country, and due to cultural and social norms, many Singaporeans do not want to work in the service industry…Last year, mid-level chain TGI Fridays introduced drones to several restaurants in the UK and U.S. Dubbed “mistle-toe drones,” the drone deploy was more of a marketing stunt than a practical cost-cutting measure. TGI Fridays’ drone experiment also backfired: One of the drones reportedly sliced the tip of a reporter’s nose off. Meanwhile, robots continue to entertain, serve, and even cook at restaurants across Asia. Most people find them either odd or delightful.”