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Drone waiters are ready to serve in Singapore

One restaurant in downtown Singapore is spicing up its dining experience by employing flying drones as wait staff.

Hongzuo Liu
Based in Singapore, Hongzuo used to write for T3 Singapore covering tech and lifestyle topics. When he is not busy with writing, you can find him on his saxophone, or playing Dota 2, or petting cats around his neighborhood.
Hongzuo Liu
2 min read

A drone waiting tables at Timbré's al fresco restaurant. Infinium Robotics

Singaporean restaurant-bar chain Timbré is employing a fleet of flying drones as waitstaff for its live-music eateries. Earlier this month, the restaurant chain and robotics company Infinium Robotics jointly unveiled a new experiment at the al fresco venue Timbré @ Substation, to showcase the reliability of commercial drones bringing plates of food and drinks to patrons.

Having robotic waiters doesn't mean humans are out of work. The drones help to eliminate the need for the restaurant's wait staff to weave through the busy dining area, as they're responsible for flying the food from the kitchen over the heads of hungry customers.

Human waiters instead spend more time interacting with diners, taking orders and clearing dishes -- and they're still needed to take the food and drinks from the floating delivery platform and give them to each customer when they arrive.

The current design of the aerial drone waiters allow them to carry up to 2kg (4.4 pounds) of food and drinks in a single trip, and they don't require a human pilot to navigate the restaurant. The live commercial debut of the flying waiters is set for one of Timbré's five restaurants by the end of the year, and the total cost of the venture amounts to a reported "low-seven figure sum" in Singapore dollars (SG$1 million is roughly $800,000, £480,000 or AU$940,000).

While the novelty factor is high and the technology is still developing, such drones may become a permanent fixture -- at least in Singapore -- as the country faces difficulty in hiring and retaining waiters and bar staff due to the profession's unglamorous social status.

The local government has taken steps to help companies who automate jobs with rising costs, such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit program, which grants up to 400 percent tax deduction or 60 percent cash payout, should a company choose to invest in IT or automation equipment.

Check out the video below of the drones in action.