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Uber delivers ice cream by drones to delighted Singaporeans

As part of its global ice cream delivery promotion, the ride-sharing company plumps for something a bit more sci-fi in the island state of Singapore.

You could be slurping frozen treats on the high seas thanks to Uber and its drones. Uber

Flying robots aren't a regular part of Uber's modus operandi, but on Friday the ride-sharing company is using the drones to deliver ice cream to customers in Singapore.

Uber has been doing an ice-cream delivery promotional stunt for four years, and with the day-long event rolling out to 252 cities in 57 countries around the world, the company is doing something different in southeast Asia by using flying machines as a futuristic delivery mechanism.

Customers usually get their delicious cooling treat delivered by an Uber driver or a runner with a backpack -- it's a simple matter of requesting an ice cream delivery through the Uber app, with a frozen dessert appearing in a few minutes. In some places, including eight cities in the UK, the ice cream is free, but elsewhere a fee is automatically billed to the credit card that's associated with your Uber account. Find out what the deal is in your city here.

But if you're down by the sea in Singapore, no boring old car for you.

"The drones are restricted to a certain area near the marina," said Karun Arya, Uber's communication manager for South Asia and India. "This is because there are strict licenses and permits required for operating drones in and around Singapore."

Uber, valued at $40 billion, has been on a marketing blitz to build up its customer base amid tighter regulation, crackdowns by authorities around the world and increasing competition. Apart from its ice cream delivery promotion, the company will be hooking up with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi in Singapore and Malaysia to deliver the new Mi Note Pro phone within an hour of ordering.

Uber took some flak for its ice-cream stunt last year from Australian users, who had complained about hidden charges made for each request, which the company explained as a temporary verification charge.