It’s the kind of tech startup that we could really get excited about if we weren’t fairly certain it’s some kind of hoax. A Web site has popped up at TacoCopter.com that offers a unique service: tacos airlifted directly to your doorstep via unmanned quadcopter drone. The rise of the machines never sounded so scrumptious.
Here’s the idea as outlined on TacoCopter.com: customers download a smartphone app, which allows them to order tacos to a specific location. The tacos then arrive via flying quadcopter. Tipping your delivery drone is presumably optional. That’s it. It’s so brilliant, we can’t believe the kids down at the GRASP Lab haven’t already cornered the market on this.But all may not be as it seems. The TacoCopter.com site says the service is in private beta (you can request an invite) in the San Francisco Bay area, and Digital Trends notes that the domain is registered to one Star Simpson, whose claim to Internet fame was having a homemade LED shirt mistaken for a bomb at Boston Logan International some years back. The charges stemming from that incident were “possession of a hoax device.”
So is TacoCopter.com simply another hoax? The thing is, Simpson is of MIT origins, a self-proclaimed inventor, artist, and engineer. That’s somewhat annoying, since we don’t know which hat she might be donning as the human intelligence behind TacoCopter.com. For now, we’re assuming that we’re going to have to continue getting our tacos the old-fashioned way (or in our case, being an NYC-based operation, our lobster rolls--the Web site teases East Coasters with the promise of “LobsterCopter,” the “Taco of the East!”)
But if there’s a more important takeaway here--even more important than the tantalizing possibility of air-dropped carnitas--it’s that this sort of thing is less far-fetched than it might seem. The FAA is opening up the national airspace to drones over the next few years. By the end of 2015, all kinds of unmanned systems will have access to the skies. The potential for quadcopter couriers and other robotic, semi-autonomous or autonomous transport grows more real by the day. If the future really is filled with self-driving cars and autonomous aerial drones, then it’s fair to say that the delicious on-demand Cali-Mex experience of the future could very well have a robotic aspect to it.
While we breathlessly await that future, we invite any Bay area readers who want to investigate to let us know how it goes. The comments section below, as always, is all yours.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.