Service industry to take flight as Singapore restaurant hires drones

17 Feb 2015

A restaurant in Singapore is set to trial drones to help serve customers at tables.

Infinium Robotics, an indigenous drone manufacturer, has been trialling its latest creation in Timbre restaurants, in a country desperately short of hospitality servers.

A reported 7,000 staff are needed to help Singapore’s booming restaurant industry and what does a technologically advanced society do in times of labour shortages? Well, it creates terrifying solutions, that’s what.

With fast delivery speed via pre-programmed routeplans, “space saving devices” (way smaller than, say, humans) can “maximise revenue per square foot”, say the manufacturers.

That’s because the drones use the space above your head to transport food and drink around the restaurant, with the capability there – according to Infinium Robotics – to safely deliver food to the table, for customers to then retrieve.

Infinium Robotics recently showcased the concept of drone servers

Timbre isn’t interested in going that far. “We still want to have that human touch,” Edward Chia, MD of the chain, told the BBC.

Looking to implement it away from customers’ waiting heads, Timbre instead will bring food from the kitchen to a “wait zone” for staff to pick up and walk the final leg.

I see no problem here whatsoever

It’s all perfectly safe, apparently. “There’s no chance at all you will hit anything,” says Infinium Robotics chief executive Junyang Woon.

Because drones never malfunction, or crash, or get meddled with. Ever.

These drones do sound quite cool, however. As reported in the Washington Post, they self-charge when waiting in the kitchen, then the chef presses a button that sends them out on their pre-ordained routes.

“Sense-and-avoid technology built into the drone won’t allow it to land at the wait station if anything is in its way. The drones are also equipped with sonar and an infrared sensor.”

Ultimately necessity brings about ideas and Singapore’s lack of wait staff is at a critical point. So creations like this should not be too surprising.

“The end objective is to improve the productivity in restaurants with lesser manpower while not degrading the entire dining experience,” says the company. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Smart restaurant service image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic