Now Delivering: Google Brings Burritos by Drone
Rising from the treetops, the whirring drone comes into view with its cargo tucked under the wing.
It hovers about 25 feet above a bullseye on the grass. A white trapezoidal box descends, does a little pirouette, and then lands with a plop. Agents quickly converge on the payload: a braised pork burrito.
In a closely guarded experiment involving the future of transportation, Project Wing — a division of X, founded by Google and now a child of Alphabet Inc. — is air-dropping fast-food onto the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
The company has invested significantly in drones and predicts that eventually they will “serve many important purposes — possibly delivering medicine and batteries to cut-off areas after a natural disaster or helping firefighters improve communication and visibility near a wildfire,” according to a fact sheet.
It’s Project Wing’s first delivery tests with actual customers in the U.S. Food was selected as a test product because it is fragile and must be delivered quickly.
The company plans to share with the FAA data on the drones’ flight path, timing and navigation, to help the regulator determine how drones should operate in public airspace.
Shelby Greenburg, an 18-year-old engineering student, says she thinks it’s “funny how innovative people are, and then we use it to deliver food.”
With a half-eaten burrito in-hand she muses. “If we aren’t using technology for what it is worth using it for, is it worth using it?”