Not today, not tomorrow — but someday not too long from now:
On July 17, the Federal Aviation Administration will allow a collaboration between NASA, Flirtey and Virginia Tech to fly unmanned aircraft to deliver pharmaceuticals to a free medical clinic in West Virginia. The fixed wing aircraft from NASA Langley and multi-rotor delivery drones from Flirtey will become the world’s first autonomous aerial delivery services.
The event organizers hope to prove that drone usage need not be nefarious or purely for enthusiasts. In fact, the goal of these drones is to bring life-saving meds to an under-served community.
“This is a Kitty Hawk moment not just for Flirtey, but for the entire industry,” said Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny in a statement. “Proving that unmanned aircraft can deliver life-saving medicines is an important step toward a future where unmanned aircraft make routine autonomous deliveries of your every day purchases.”
I was trying to think of the second most important use for delivery drones, after lifesaving drugs — and I’m not kidding when I tell you it’s pizza.
There’s nothing worse than being the last house on the delivery route, or getting the new driver who doesn’t know his way through the twisty lanes of your ‘burb, or just a good old fashioned traffic jam.
But a pizza drone could deliver your pizza in not much more time than it takes you to get a homemade pie from your oven to your table. The labor savings could be invested in multiple drones, insuring the last house on the route will be fewer houses away than it is now. In bigger cities, it might be possible for the Domino’s Drone to deliver to your window or fire escape, saving time that was once spent running down halls and up flights of stairs or waiting for elevators. Local pizza joints could even expand their business into distant neighborhoods or rural areas where delivery just isn’t currently practical.
I’ve watched as “30 minutes or free!” became “45 minutes or so” and now “You’ll get it when you get it.”
Or how about this: You’re at the park with your hungry kids, and you electronically flag down the pizza UAV with the GPS-enabled delivery app on your smartphone.
Hardly anybody needs their Amazon deliveries on the same day, but everybody wants their pizza as hot out of the oven as they can get it. And when it comes to luxury items (in the relative sense) like pizza delivery, wants trump needs.
Pizza is the killer app for delivery drones.