You like your drinks shaken, not stirred? How about flown? As in flown to you by a drone?
It was possibility this past weekend during the “Dream and Dare” festival held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Eindhoven University in the Netherlands.
Nearly 20 university students set up a cafe where patrons were served drinks by an unmanned aircraft model nicknamed Blue Jay. At its debut, the aircraft took drink orders and delivered them to patrons.
“People will be served by a drone, the drone will fly autonomously and will interact with you,” Team Manager Tessie Hartjes said in an April 21 video introducing the cafe. “But that’s just the first step. This drone cafe is a glimpse of your future.”
Nine months of development went into getting the autonomous drone airborne. The cafe is part of a larger project exploring uses for domestic drones, ones that would primarily function inside buildings.
“We discovered a drone could be very useful indoors because that’s where people are,” Acquisition Manager Lex Hoefsloot in the video.
While bringing items to a person is one use, others posed by the students include having aircraft outfitted with fire extinguishers capable of putting out fires or sensors that could detect intruders.
Modified for indoor use, Blue Jay has a plastic body that covers its propellers and other machinery. It’s a safety feature that won’t cause injury even if the aircraft bumps into a person, its website says.
Blue Jay is circular in shape with a set of pincers extending down from its body and glowing eyes that give it a cartoonish look. It lends to its friendly nature, with some likening it to a pet.
“We believe that one day, domestic drones will be part of our society,” Hoefsloot said. “One day, a drone could be a friend.”
You can see more of the student’s videos about their project here.