The following sentence has never been written in the history of human language: A mistletoe-toting drone flying in a crowded Sheepshead Bay TGI Friday’s restaurant cut a photographer’s face after it careened out of another reporter’s hand. The fact that I had to write this sentence is proof that marketing departments and drone operators need some time apart.
You see, TGI Friday’s, a chain of so-called “restaurants,” figured it would be fun to attach some mistletoe to a drone and fly it over people’s heads. The idea, in a move that is reminiscent of the Birthday Boys’ Freshy’s skit, is that people will tweet that they went into a TGI Friday’s and were forced to kiss by a flying robot.
The Brooklyn Daily took the arguably weak bait and headed down to Sheepshead Bay to a TGI Friday’s that could charitably be compared to a lightly decorated bomb shelter connected to a dumpster. From the article:
The drone operator blamed the reporter for the injury because she failed to grab a whirring, flying quadcopter before it caromed off into someone’s face. Given that either of the models he flew – a smaller model and a 23-inch monster, shown above, that looks hand-built – are intrinsically dangerous I suspect the onus is on him to keep these things grounded. For TGI Friday’s part they ham-handedly allowed the operator to say that “If people get hurt, they’re going to come regardless. People get hurt in airplanes, they still fly.” TGI Friday’s: You’ll Come Back Even If You’re Hurt.
Flying drones to raise a little buzz is not new – see the Beer drone – but none of the previous efforts involved flying heavy-duty hardware in closed environments. Marketing departments: let’s calm things down a little. Amazon likes to show off their robots, sure, but their robots kill behind closed doors. Putting a flying drone in a busy dining room is literally inviting lawsuits. We’ve flown safer drones through Disrupt event spaces and we’re endlessly aware that they can nip someone’s face with one wrong move. Once these things are AI controlled and can hassle people without human intervention then maybe we can send mistletoe drones into grease pits. But maybe in TGI Friday’s case it doesn’t matter? As one Gawker commenter noted: “I don’t think that TGI Friday’s customers are overly concerned with their health or well-being.”