Singapore is experiencing a boom in its food culture, but a bust in its service industry: The country faces a shortage of 7,000 service staff due to a social stigma against working in the food industry and tightened immigration laws. To narrow the gap, one company is turning to a unique solution: drone waiters.
Infinium Robotics will unveil a drone waiter later this year that's capable of navigating via infrared sensors and carrying up to 4.4 pounds—enough to haul a pizza and a few beers. The drones are designed to avoid each other (and humans) as they whiz around a restaurant carrying trays of food to patrons. Grates over the quadcopters' rotors also prevent errant hands or fingers from getting caught in the mechanical staff.
A restaurant chain called the Timbre Group is buying the first fleet of Infinium drones. Its managing director that he plans to use about 40 of them during this first run. If it succeeds, the company wants to move its human staffers more into jobs that machines can't quite do yet, just as crafting the perfect cocktail.