In the biggest test of drone deliveries to date, Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. and Chipotle are bringing airborne burritos to the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. According to Bloomberg, the trial runs start this month using Alphabet's experimental Project Wing drones flying out of a Chipotle food truck.
The drones, which are all approved under the FAA's new commercial guidelines, can fly autonomously but will have a human backup ready to take the controls if something goes awry. When a drone reaches the hungry customer on the other end of the delivery, it will hover in place while lowering the burrito payload to the ground using a winch. The project's engineers will be testing everything from the drone's navigation systems to customer satisfaction. After all, what good is a drone if it can only bring you a cold, mushy burrito?
While the concept seems simple, the data gathered from the project will actually help the FAA design a new system of low-altitude air traffic control that will be necessary once drone deliveries start catching on in earnest. As the director of the project partnership, Mark Blanks told Bloomberg, the lucky volunteers ordering the airlifted burritos will be a select group of users made up of "Virginia Tech employees, students and possibly other recruits."