Mexican fast food chain Chipotle is working with Alphabet, the parent company behind Google, to deliver burritos via drone for students at Virginia Tech.
The service, which will be launched in September, is only going to last a few weeks. However, it has been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“It’s the first time that we’re actually out there delivering stuff to people who want that stuff,” said the head of Alphabet’s Project Wing, Dave Vos.
The drones, which have the ability to glide like a plane and hover like a helicopter, will lower the deliveries to students, and the experiment will also test how well the food can be delivered while still hot in its packaging.
“It sounds simple, but it’s not,” said Virginia Tech President, Timothy Sands, who wants the university to become a leader in modern transportation technology. “There are a lot of things to work out from a safety point of view and a policy point of view.”
“This is the most complex delivery flight operation that I am aware of that’s occurred on U.S. soil,” claimed the project’s director of partnership, Mark Blanks.
“Before widespread deliveries can occur, companies will have to convince the FAA that drones can avoid each other and safely navigate to drop spots using robotic technology,” wrote Alan Levin for Bloomberg.
The agency on Aug. 29 instituted broad new regulations for commercial drones. While companies hope the rules will clear the way for drone deliveries, they didn’t permit such flights initially.
The burrito-bearing aircraft will be flown by automation, but human pilots will be standing by to take control if necessary to comply with FAA rules, he said. Because regulations also don’t allow drones to fly over people, participants will be shielded, according to the company.