First, a Domino’s pizza came out of the sky. Now Chipotle wants to drop burritos onto the campus of Virginia Tech. Did college students win some sort of high-tech lottery aimed at fulfilling their fast-food cravings?
Project Wing, a unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. is teaming with Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and the university located in Blacksburg, Va., in what Bloomberg calls the most extensive test yet in the U.S. of product delivery via drone.
The FAA-approved venture will rely on self-guided hybrids that can fly like a plane and hover like a helicopter. A Chipotle food truck will serve as a base from which aircraft will be loaded with burritos or other food items before the fare is eventually lowered to the ground via winch.
The effort is aimed at convincing the FAA that delivery drones can safely navigate the skies overhead and avoid running into each other — dropping your pizza or burrito or future Amazon order of hair gel onto unsuspecting heads below.
Google X’s Astro Teller wrote about the project on Medium Thursday in a post titled, “Drawing up a flight plan for moonshots.”
Now, you might be wondering how we decided to deliver food. It’s simple: our goal is to maximize learning, and food delivery poses a rich set of operating challenges that few other testing scenarios have. A lunchtime rush of burrito orders will crank up the operational pressure of multiple orders coming in during a short period of time. We’ll get to test how to package sensitive cargo and how well it endures the journey (after all, everyone wants their meal hot and in the right shape). In future tests, we could add a broader range of items, like drinks, which will push us to handle more weight, keep packages carefully balanced, and manage combinations of items on a single flight. […] Food is a natural place to experiment; it’s one of the most common quick delivery items around the world. By maximizing our opportunities for learning in real-world conditions today, we’ll maximize our chances of success in the future.
Virginia Tech president Timothy Sands said in a news release that the project is part of the school’s efforts to become a leader in new transportation technology.
Hungry students are just expected to point at the sky and groan.