Drones have gotten a bad rap lately. But one London restaurant is trying to use them for good (food) instead of evil.
YO! Sushi, whose previous gimmicks include a robotic drinks trolley and the now relatively passé conveyor belt, hopes to soon be serving diners their meals via airborne tray.
The gadgets are powered by four rotors and travel at up to 25 miles an hour, or six times more than a waiter’s average walking speed, according to the Guardian.
Two of the drones are currently being used at the chain's Soho branch in central London.
YO! decided to introduce the "iTray" after adding lower-calorie burgers to its menu, according to the Big Hospitality website.
"The concept came from our thinking of ‘How are we going to show people how light and exciting and fun this food type is?'" CEO Robin Rowland explained in a promotional video.
Staff members control the drone tray by tipping and turning an iPad controller. In theory, they can fly the tray to a table up to 50 yards away and return it once the food has been taken off.
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However, the flying tray, made from a lightweight carbon fiber frame, is not yet capable of carrying the weight of the burger it was built for. It's currently in test mode with prawn crackers and plastic food.
The Guardian gives this account:
'Instead of flying serenely in front of him and landing gently on the table, the machine drunkenly lurches around at knee height, crashing into camera tripods and chairs or just the ground, as the pilot mutters darkly about the wind factor and low batteries. Its rotor blades are said to be powerful enough to speed it along at 20 mph, at a range of 50m, but they also mean that when the tray tilts and the prawn crackers fall out they are chopped and sprayed through the area.'
Despite the initial snags, YO! Sushi isn't the first food outlet to attempt culinary lift-off.
Earlier this month, Domino's Pizza released a video of what it called its "DomiCopter": a pizza-delivering lightweight aircraft. A "burrito-dropping drone" is also being tested in San Francisco.