SINGAPORE -- Imagine a flying robot waiter flying up to your table in a restaurant to deliver a pizza; it hovers politely while you remove your food, then zips off to serve the next customer. Infinium Robotics, a Singapore company, has created such a flying robot, and it expects to find a ready market. Amid the tight labor market in the service industry, restaurant owners can use the robots to lessen the workload of waiters and boost efficiency.
The robots, named Infinium-Serve, work like this: The customer orders the food on a device such as a tablet. The order is sent to the kitchen, and the food is prepared by the chef, who places the dish on the Infinium-Serve. The chef then keys in the table number into a device in the kitchen. The machine updates the ground control station, which directs the robot to the correct table. The robot then navigates autonomously to a central waiting area, where a human waiter could pick up the dish to serve the customer. In the not too distant future, it will be able to serve food directly to the customer's table.
Infinium-Serve robots are able to fly and hover without human intervention because the ground control station controls them and directs their navigation paths. In addition, they have onboard systems that help them avoid other robots, as well as sensors that can detect obstacles, making the robots safe for people in the restaurants.
The company declined to comment on the actual cost of the robots, but said it would depend on the size and other factors.
Infinium Robotics recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding recently with Singapore's Timbre Group, a popular restaurant chain, to deploy its robotic servers to five of its restaurants. Edward Chia, Managing Director of Timbre Group believes they can help him to "redirect more manpower to higher-productivity activities." He said that given the tightening labor market, it is important for his company to innovate and find new solutions to provide the best possible dining experience for customers.
Infinium Robotics is a Singapore start-up founded in 2013. It aims to supply robots as solutions for the food and beverage, construction, and logistics industries. The company recently obtained 250,000 Singapore dollars ($184,870) from SPRING Singapore, an agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to pursue research and development in this area for the food and beverage industry.
Woon Junyang, founder and CEO of Infinium Robotics, aims to provide robotic solutions for the logistics and construction sectors in the future. Woon told the Nikkei Asian Review that the company is currently in talks with the government's Urban Redevelopment Authority to create robots to help build 3D model buildings.
The Singapore government decided to curb its foreign labor supply after public concerns about the city-state's heavy reliance on foreign workers. The decision resulted in a tight labor market with an unemployment rate of 2%. Adversely affected industries such as the service sector have been forced to look for alternatives to cope with the shortage of workers.