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  • David, I guess you are arguing the skycrane idea doesn't solve problems with theft because someone could stand on a ladder or lasso it or something? I think it would prevent most physical damage because it removes the necessity of having it within reach of the customer. Sure they can still damage it, but you have their credit card number, and they click "agree to pay a million dollars if delivery vehicle is damaged or stolen" when they order.

  • 3D Robotics

    Our team at Wired does some reporting!

    Tacocopter is nothing more than a product concept created by Star Simpson, an MIT grad who stumbled into the limelight in 2007 after being arrested for wearing a hoax explosive device comprised of a circuit board and green LEDs.

    Simpson, who’s currently in Shenzen, China working on an actual project called Canidu, took some time to answer a few questions about Tacocopter.

    “I wouldn’t say it was ever considered a joke,” Simpson said of the site. “Quadcopters are fascinating, and I’m taken with the idea that the possibilities for using them in non-flying death robot contexts.”

    Simpson and compadres Dustin Boyer and Scott Torborg created the Tacocopter site for a few reasons. “Partly it was so I would keep thinking about how to make something like this work, and partly it was to do the same for other people. A vision. Like what cyberpunk did for the Internet — mull the possibilities, give people things to think about,” Simpson said in an interview over AIM. “The other motivation is that we basically only hear about quadrotors in scary contexts, and I think it does give that fear and emotional tension a safe and hilarious outlet.”

    Simpson cautiously thinks something like Tacocopter could become a reality in the future, but for now, the system described by the Tacocopter website is illegal: Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are prohibited for commercial use by the FAA.

    If the FAA did relax its regulations, Simpson thinks “a network of command and recharging centers attached to kitchens capable of fulfilling demand orders could easily satisfy the taco delivery needs of a metropolitan area like San Francisco.”

    As for whether a drone or a remote control flying vehicle would be used, Simpson said, “I think the best option for an urban context would be a remote operated vehicle — something flown by a pilot who could respond to difficult-to-map obstacles like the street lamps and balconies you’d inevitably have to deal with.”

    Simpson was careful to note that many questions surrounding Tacocopter remain. Among other matters, her brain trust would need to consider optimal routing, human safety, dealing with wind and weather, vehicle control, taco delivery handoff and taco impact, and pricing.

    If Tacocopter ever does become a reality, those who entered email addresses into the Tacocopter website will be notified. Simpson promised the Tacocopter team would not be selling our email addresses to spamlords.

  • Also, take a look at this...

  • I think this is more likely.  

  • Then still that doesn't around the problems you claim to have with theft.  You might as well just land.  I really don't think the fast food industry will be using drones any time soon.  This is just going to be a novelty for the wealthy nerd in tech savvy areas if it occurs at all.  I mean I can see how you would do the flight.  It all makes perfect sense.  Maybe you could picture a "block wide" ground station similar to mail room.  Where a sub development shares a drone port, but to lower packages onto a front lawn still seems a little hokey.  I mean there is a reason that we all don't all fly helicopters even though they could be cost effective.  The end user.

    I'll be more than happy to buy a burrito off you when the time comes, but i'll be that wealthy nerd.  

  • And I should make it clear that I'm talking about a very low impact drop here-- the string is reeled out by a motor and the string only detaches once the object is on the ground. It's a "skycrane" approach like the Mars Science Laboratory is using for the Curiosity rover. If it works on Mars, it should work in your back yard ;-)

  • David, I can think of many ways of getting around the accurate drop problem. I think the quad would need to be monitored via FPV, but the delivery would be largely autonomous. The best solution (requires some tech development) is probably to have the customer put out some kind of mat with a symbol that the quad could recognize and drop on. Perhaps that could be printed from a normal inkjet. It is not a trivial problem, but it's one the fast food industry will overcome and there will be billions of dollars in it. Kind of fun now, but in 10 years this will be standard.

  • Certainly a rural drop would not be out of the question though.  Move to Wyoming.

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