Singapore restaurant chain uses drones as servers

Timbre, a popular chain of restaurants and music bars in Singapore, is currently testing the use of commercial drones to deliver food to customers, according to the International Business Times UK. For members of the culinary academy, this concept may set off some alarms; however, the reason for this decision may be different than you think. While it would seem many eateries would use drones or automatons as a means of cutting down on the cost of staffing, Timbre is in fact using the machines due to a lack of manpower. Eater notes that Singapore’s government has put a cap on the amount of foreign workers allowed in the country and that many Singaporeans don’t want to work in the food service industry. This has left Timbre, and possibly other restaurants, with limited staffing options.

Drone servers? 
While the idea of robot servers has not become widely popular in the U.S., drones and other machines are increasingly being used to deliver food in Asian countries. For many diners, this experience may seem somewhat odd, taking away from the human element enjoyed at a good restaurant. However, Timbre appears confident that using drones will in fact give its staff more time to interact with customers. Of course, questions of safety still arise. In speaking with IBTimes UK, Edward Chia, Timbre Group’s managing director explained:

“It can’t just be safe, it has to look safe. So the drones are not going to fly over the customers’ heads. We’re going to run a couple of focus groups before we launch, using some of our loyal customers, and there will be many more test flights. We don’t want to rush it, the R&D has to be done properly.”

The restaurant group worked closely with a technology firm to custom design the drones to function well in a crowded dining environment. The drones have been programmed with anti-collision algorithms, thereby allowing one operator to control multiple machines at one time without the risk of them crashing. Currently, there are no laws in Singapore banning the use of drones in indoor areas.

For the time being, these devices are likely not practical for most eating establishments, and, at least in the U.S., are sure to rub a few restaurateurs the wrong way. Whether drones will become a global phenomenon in the food service industry is yet to be seen.

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