Lunchtime rolls around, stomachs are growling, and hungry people look up at the sky. It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a flying burrito.
That's the vision from drone delivery service Project Wing, which is planning to begin testing drone delivery of burritos on the Virginia Tech campus this month.
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Project Wing, a unit of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. focused on building next-gen automated aircraft, is heading up the experiment. They chose burritos because food delivery poses a unique challenge, Bloomberg reported. Virgina Tech and Chipotle agreed to participate in tasty testing that starts soon and will run for a few weeks.
"It's the first time that we're actually out there delivering stuff to people who want that stuff," Project Wing lead Dave Vos told Bloomberg. Well put. He added that the aircraft are automated, but they'll have human pilots standing by to comply with FAA regulations.
So far, the plan is for Project Wing to use a self-guided hybrid drone that will pick up food from a Chipotle truck, navigate to a specific spot, hover overhead, and lower the packaged warm item from the sky with a winch. The company plans to send the test results to the FAA to help inform future rules about drone deliveries.
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As much as I would enjoy seeing a food-delivery drone flying toward my door with an entire day's worth of calories wrapped in a warm tortilla, I think it's going to be a while before this becomes the norm.
Drones still make people nervous about privacy and security -- and rightly so. Remember that chainsaw-wielding drone? Plus, there are numerous factors that have to be just right or the whole thing fails spectacularly. In the immediate future, I expect that we're more likely to see rolling delivery bots.
Until all this delivery tech takes off, here's a closer look at the burritos-by-drone project, courtesy of Bloomberg: