“One Company Thinks It Has Come Up With A Solution – Flying Robot Waiters”

Bellhops, desk attendants and bank tellers are beginning to go robotic, and you can add waiters to the list. In Singapore, such restaurant service workers are in short supply and drones are a measure of desperation, but if the machines succeed there, they become an option for places where there’s no paucity of willing human capital. Even if it’s more gimmick than solution, the kitchen-to-table technology still shows the flexibility of relatively inexpensive Weak AI. From Tessa Wong at the BBC:

In Singapore food is a national obsession. But finding enough people to bring the food to diners is increasingly becoming a problem.

One company thinks it has come up with a solution – flying robot waiters. They are sturdy, reliable, and promise never to call in sick at the last minute.

Infinium Robotics’ drones, due to be introduced at a local restaurant-bar chain by the end of this year, can carry up to 2kg (4.4lbs) of food and drink – that’s about two pints of beer, a pizza, and two glasses of wine.

The unpiloted robots whizz above the heads of diners on paths charted by a computer programme, and navigate using infra-red sensors placed around the restaurant. …

Infinium Robotics’ chief executive officer Junyang Woon says that his technology frees up capacity: “So staff are able to interact more with customers and enhance their dining experience.”

Drones can pose safety and liability issues, especially when used indoors. In December, a drone crashed into someone’s face at a TGI Fridays outlet in New York.

But Mr Woon says their machines use onboard cameras and sensors to ensure they do not collide with one another or with people. Their blades are covered with grates.•