Skip to main content

Hungry Virginia Tech students will soon be able to order drone-delivered Chipotle burritos

chipotle alphabet drone delivery virginia tech
Virginia Tech
Google parent company Alphabet is looking to test out some of its drone technologies, and is turning to Chipotle to do it. The company will test out drone-based home delivery of the semi-fast food chain’s meals to the 30,000-plus students on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus.

Over a period of several weeks, the Project Wing division of Alphabet will offer delivery from Chipotle’s on-campus food truck to wherever the ordering student is, presumably through the use of an app. When it finds the student who has ordered the burrito, the food will be lowered using a winch.

Related Videos

Neither Alphabet or Chipotle are guaranteeing at this point that the service may work: the packaging could come apart, the burrito might be cool, or the winch may plop that burrito right on your head instead of your hands for example. The goal here is testing accuracy, durability, and feasibility, and Virginia Tech’s hungry students are the guinea pigs.

Alphabet’s test has received FAA approval, and there are a few things that Project Wing will need to do in order to comply with current drone laws. While the burrito-delivering drones will be automated, trained human pilots will be on standby to take control of the drone if needed. Regulations also forbid drones from flying directly over people, so any participants will be “shielded.”

While all of this may sound like a simple test, Project Wing says it’s much more complex that it looks. First off, how to fly drones in what could become ever-increasingly busy skies is one thing that will be tested during deliveries. The FAA will also monitor the test, possibly using what Project Wing finds in development of regulations surrounding the topic.

Also, it sounds like the test won’t be open to just anybody (likely due to that “no guarantees” warning referenced earlier). The director of the partnership, Mark Blanks, told Bloomberg that participants will be “a mix of Virginia Tech employees, students, and possibly other recruits.” Either way, it is the most complex test of drone delivery so far.

Let’s hope it’s successful, because the idea of drone-delivered Chipotle just sounds awesome.

Editors' Recommendations

Virginia Tech student faces up to a $2,500 fine for fake school shooting threat on Yik Yak
virginia tech student anonymous threat yik yak

A 21-year-old Virginia Tech senior named Kiung Moon found himself on the wrong side of the law, as he was arrested by police following an anonymous threat posted on Yik Yak, reports the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech's student-run newspaper.

Last Wednesday, the Virginia Tech Police Department was alerted to a message posted on the anonymous social network, which stated, "Another 4.16 moment is going to happen tomorrow. Just a warning (sic)." The message referred to the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007 that claimed the lives of 33 people, including the perpetrator, Seung-Hui Cho.

Read more
Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Water filters, flamethrowers, idiot-proof drones
Naked Filter Bottle

At any given moment there are approximately a zillion different crowdfunding campaigns happening on the Web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find there’s no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there – alongside some real gems. We’ve cut through the Pebble clones and janky iPhone cases to round up the most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects out there this week. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project — even the best intentioned — can fail, so do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.
Naked Filter -- Nanotech water filter
When you're out in the wilderness, pretty much all of your options for water purification are horrible. Iodine tablets taste like ass, boiling your water takes forever, and reverse osmosis filters are a pain to suck water through. If none of those tickle your fancy, you could always go the SteriPen route, but UV light doesn't filter out particulate matter. I don't know about you, but drinking flecks of fish poop and pond scum isn't my thing.

But not to worry -- the good folks at Liquidity Nanotech have developed a much better solution. Using a specially-engineered nano-fiber membrane, the bottle is able to trap 99.999 percent of all bacteria, protozoan cysts, and any other particles bigger than 0.2 microns. Now to be fair, this definitely isn't the first filter-in-bottle purification system -- but thanks to the composition of the nanofiber membrane, water is able to pass through freely, almost like a normal, filterless water bottle.
Ares -- Uber-simplified videography drones
Drones have revolutionized the way we shoot aerial video. Shots that used to require a helicopter pilot and steadycam operator can now be performed by anybody with a quadcopter. The only problem is that getting pro-level shots is still somewhat difficult. Even if you're a seasoned drone pilot, maneuvering the drone and pointing the camera in the proper direction can be a tricky endeavor. That's where Ares comes in. These guys have created an innovative new drone control system that makes aerial videography as easy as fingerpainting.

Read more
The next big thing in science is already in your pocket
A researcher looks at a protein diagram on his monitor

Supercomputers are an essential part of modern science. By crunching numbers and performing calculations that would take eons for us humans to complete by ourselves, they help us do things that would otherwise be impossible, like predicting hurricane flight paths, simulating nuclear disasters, or modeling how experimental drugs might effect human cells. But that computing power comes at a price -- literally. Supercomputer-dependent research is notoriously expensive. It's not uncommon for research institutions to pay upward of $1,000 for a single hour of supercomputer use, and sometimes more, depending on the hardware that's required.

But lately, rather than relying on big, expensive supercomputers, more and more scientists are turning to a different method for their number-crunching needs: distributed supercomputing. You've probably heard of this before. Instead of relying on a single, centralized computer to perform a given task, this crowdsourced style of computing draws computational power from a distributed network of volunteers, typically by running special software on home PCs or smartphones. Individually, these volunteer computers aren't particularly powerful, but if you string enough of them together, their collective power can easily eclipse that of any centralized supercomputer -- and often for a fraction of the cost.

Read more