New Mexico is more than 6,000 miles away from Afghanistan, but when a button is pushed inside a highly wired container in the desert of the American Southwest, a missile is fired from the Predator drone hovering above Kandahar or Helmand.
Remote, exacting, omnipresent, lethal—drones’ Ender’s Game-like role in modern warfare has the private sector itching to find a use for the technology in the business world. Because why wouldn’t it be awesome to have agile unmanned aircraft do anything and everything for us? Like flying over farmland or delivering pizza (or, you know, domestic spying).
The delivery drone that’s ferrying Japanese rice-patty burgers (“Taste the Future”) to diners at London’s Yo! Sushi shows why—in addition to an FAA ban on the aircraft—the remote revolution in the service industry is probably further off than breathless advocates might have you believe. As a waiter, the carbon fiber “flying serving tray,” with it four propellers, wi-fi connection, and two cameras, is bumbling at best.
In a video posted by The Guardian, the drone is shown ferrying a Styrofoam tray of food, its operator holding the iPad controls just feet away. The soundtrack? “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Unlike the graceful DomiCoptor, the Yo! Drone has a difficult time gaining more than three feet of altitude, wavering and dipping on its way to the table. At one point, it lurches down toward a woman’s lap, its blades threatening to snip at the hem of her coat like an overexcited dog.
To be fair, this is a trial—Yo! doesn’t plan on rolling out its new waiters until next year. But they’re a long way off from Predator-like accuracy.
The restaurant’s other automated food conveyance, a sushi conveyor belt, appears to be in fine working order.