Food delivery by drones: coming to a restaurant near you

Are Tacocopters and Burrito Bombers the next Pony Express?

Flying sushi: The "iTray" brings food to customers at a YO! Sushi restaurant in London.The drones are coming! The drones are coming! But this time they’re not armed with hellfire missiles. These drones are packing a new kind of heat: steaming pizzas, fresh tacos and cold beer.

Drones – the popular term for a wide range of unmanned aerial vehicles that are autonomous, semi-autonomous, or totally remote controlled – are not just limited to military use. Even though drones rightfully call up images of large, ominous, lethal, all-seeing machines, their smaller cousins are breaking into the civilian world of consumer products and business operations. And they’re doing so in a variety of strange ways that may change the face of modern transportation – from how late-night munchies arrive at your doorstep to how equipment and medicine is delivered to remote regions.

Some of the proposed everyday uses of drones fully embrace the bizarre. Early last year, the announcement of a new start-up called Tacocopter started plenty of buzz. By using a smartphone app, you, the hungry consumer, could punch in an order for tasty Mexican fare and soon a quadcopter drone laden with tacos woul­d be on its way to your house or office – no tip necessary. Stephen Colbert lampooned the idea on his show: “Thanks to the imagineers at Tacopter, now, wherever I am, by sending my cellphones GPS co-ordinates I can call in a surgical flavour strike that will level my hunger with significant collateral deliciousness.” However, much to the dismay of many tech writers, Tacocopter and its convincing website ended up just being a product concept that was announced to gin up interest rather than an actual start-up.

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