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A TGI Friday's Mistletoe Drone Crashed into a Photographer's Face

America's favorite chain restaurant introduced a fleet of mistletoe-carrying drones for the holiday season, which seemed like a stupid idea even before one of them cut somebody's face open.
December 8, 2014, 7:53pm

When TGI Friday's announced their "mobile mistletoe" drones—a fleet of flying robots towing mistletoe that flew around the restaurant and prompted diners to kiss, kind of like a kiss cam but with drones—it was not met with much fanfare. Tech blogs universally panned the idea, calling it out as uncool; other publications chalked it up to a holiday gimmick. And then there were the logistical problems: What if the mistletoe drone landed above, say, you and your boss? What if you were out to dinner with your parents? Or, as one guy pointed out to the New York Daily News, "Some people might be on a date with their side chick and wouldn't want their face up on the screen."

True that. But for all the bad press about the mistletoe drones, no one anticipated that they would turn violent until one of the drones crashed into a diner's face last week.

The victim was Georgine Benvenuto, who was at Friday's as a photographer for the Brooklyn Daily, along with a team of reporters checking out the drones on their New York debut in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. When the drone made its way toward their table, one of the Brooklyn Daily reporters apparently flinched and the drone soared into Benvenuto's face.

"It literally chipped off a tip of my nose," said Benvenuto.

A spokeswoman for the chain brushed it off as an "isolated incident" and said that while "safety is our first priority," TGI Friday's stood behind the drone's licensed operator.

David Quiones was the guy operating the drone at Friday's that night, and he also brushed it off, saying, "If people get hurt, they're going to come regardless. People get hurt in airplanes, they still fly." It's worth noting that Quiones has a history of flying these quadcopters indoors and annoying people. If he's trying to spread the gospel for indoor drones, he's not doing a very good job.

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