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Launch plans for serving drones at Timbre grounded

SINGAPORE — Diners hoping to be served by “flying waiters” will have to wait a little longer, as plans to launch the use of aerial drones at Timbre Group’s largest restaurant venue at Gillman Barracks have been pushed back until the middle of this year.

Launch plans for serving drones at Timbre grounded

An Infinium-Serve flying robot taking off from a bar with a plate of snacks during a media demonstration at Timbre @ The Substation.

SINGAPORE — Diners hoping to be served by “flying waiters” will have to wait a little longer, as plans to launch the use of aerial drones at Timbre Group’s largest restaurant venue at Gillman Barracks have been pushed back until the middle of this year.

The Timbre Group, a popular chain of dining establishments here, had announced previously that it would be launching the drones — developed by Singapore-based company Infinium Robotics — in at least one of its venues by the end of last year.

However, Infinium Robotics’ chief executive Woon Junyang told TODAY that the drones are “still undergoing the final stage of development”.

He added that eight of the drones ordered for Timbre @ Gillman are scheduled to be rolled out “during the first half of 2016”.

Timbre Group had planned to order, progressively, a total of 40 of these drones, which earlier reports said would cost the group “a seven-figure sum”, for use at its dining outlets.

The use of the fully autonomous server-drones, called Infinium Serve, is expected to increase productivity by about 25 per cent, as staff will no longer need to shuffle between the kitchen and the dining area.

Drinks or dishes would be placed on the drones, and the drones would fly above human height before descending to a docking station, where waiters will take them to tables.

While it had been announced earlier that there were plans to increase the payload of the drones from 700g to 2kg (the weight of about two pints of beer), Mr Woon told TODAY that the company “has successfully increased the current payload from 500g to 1kg”.

“We are looking to increase the payload to 1.5kg by the time of deployment,” he added.

News that the Timbre Group would be using the flying robots at its dining venues had generated much interest among diners, as it would have been the first time that a restaurant in Singapore would be using drones to deliver food.

During the inaugural National Productivity month in October 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was presented with a Singapore flag during a brief demonstration of the Infinium Serve drone.

However, while the use of drones in restaurants is gaining popularity around the world, it has also raised questions about their safety.

In one incident in 2014, a mistletoe-carrying drone crashed into a photojournalist’s face at a TGI Friday’s restaurant in New York, causing her to suffer from minor facial cuts.

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