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Why Can’t We Have a Tacocopter?

“Honestly I think it’s not totally unreasonable to regulate something as potentially dangerous as having flying robots slinging tacos over people’s heads … [O]n the other hand, it’s a little bit ironic that that’s the case in a country where you can be killed by drone with no judicial review.” — Star Simpson, alumnus of MIT’s Personal Robotics Group and co-founder of a business that would deliver tacos by helicopter drone [1], pending FAA approval.

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#1 Comment By Mark Nugent On March 23, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

What about a TACocopter, so we could bring people their subscriptions while bypassing the post office.

#2 Comment By Daniel McCarthy On March 23, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

Well, there is our new [2], which is even better.

#3 Comment By Scott Lahti On March 23, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

The Nuge, above, scores very big indeed.

Then there’s [3].

And think of the opportunities for retail, as the backroom managers radio to their in-store flying squadron word of the latest suspected shoplifters: “Attention K-Mart choppers…;”

#4 Comment By Mitchell Young On March 23, 2012 @ 8:22 pm

Man, what a disappointment … I thought this would be about employing drone ‘copters on the border.

#5 Comment By Scott Lahti On March 23, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

Another glimpse at dragonfly delivery came earlier this month, when the authors of Abundance [4] to a [5] by the popular neo-Hayekian evolutionary zoologist/economist Matt Ridley, who had suspected that the ongoing dematerialization of economic life – sharp reduction in amounts of raw materials used in the production of goods and services – might run up against built-in limits in the realm of old-line infrastructure:

“Or consider [6], a Singularity University spin-off attacking both of Ridley’s aforementioned problems—healthcare and freeway repair—simultaneously. Taking advantage of the fact that military-grade autonomous drones have dropped in price by nearly 99 percent over the past decade (radical demonetization), without much loss in functionality, Matternet is planning an AI-enabled network of UAVs and recharging stations housed in shipping containers scattered throughout roadless parts of Africa. Orders are placed via smart phone. For villages disconnected from the global transportation network, this means that everything from replacement parts for farm machinery to medical supplies can now be shipped in via a drone—for less than six cents per kilogram-kilometer.”

#6 Comment By MattSwartz On March 24, 2012 @ 9:18 am

Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that the handgun hadn’t been invented until 2008. Long guns had, and (somehow) human history is unaltered by the absence of little ones, but still: until recently, no handguns. If that were the case, do you think handguns would be legal or illegal today, and why?

I think they’d be highly illegal, and I think the reason why is relevant to the impending Taco (and TACo)-Copter ban. The issue is egalitarianism and social cohesion. When people don’t trust one another, they view all potential increases in individual power as threats, rather than opportunities, even if the good potential results outweigh the bad ones. Handguns came of age in a time and place where knowing one’s neighbors’ names was commonplace, and churches, schools, and towns hashed out their agendas in regularly held, citizen-directed public meetings.

We don’t live in that world anymore. It’s easy, as a conservative, for me to blame the 60’s and that eras revolutions (sexual, civil rights, academic, etc) and immigration policy for the change, but the two mass-level war mobilizations in the last century must be considered as change agents, too.

#7 Comment By Mr. Patrick On March 24, 2012 @ 10:57 am

Somehow I can easily see the liability for dry-cleaning necessitated by dropping guacamole and carnitas from the sky in the United States being more expensive than the liability for dropping missiles in Asia.

#8 Comment By Scott Lahti On March 24, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

“dropping guacamole and carnitas from the sky”

In a dark corner office, desk fan blows my hair
Warm smell of carnitas, wafting down through the air
Down the hall near Accounting, a cloud of capsaicin smog
My lips were drooling and my stomach growled
I became Pavlov’s next dog

There it hovered in mid-air
I heard its clanging knell
And I was thinking to myself,
This must be our lunch sent from Taco Bell

There it dropped off its cargo
Whence it left straight away
From our bosses down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say…

Welcome to the flying Tacocopter
Refried beans through space
At a lightning pace
Plenty of food on the flying Tacocopter
Turn your gloom to cheer
Wash it down with beer…

#9 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On March 24, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

Wow taco or pizza delivery by robo-copter. I’m afraid I’d be drawn again and again to my patio by pavlovian reflex.

BTW there was a story about a month ago about Peta using a home grown surveillance drone to spy on a dove hunt. Not a great tactic. I’m sure many doves survived the day after the hunters expended all their ammo on the drone. Who needs to shoot skeet or doves when you can blast drones?

#10 Comment By Scott Lahti On March 25, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

“Who needs to shoot skeet or doves when you can blast drones?”

This is what it sounds like/When drones fry …

#11 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On March 26, 2012 @ 11:37 am

Scott Lahti, Point taken. Drones can be almost silent, copters not as much. The Florida incident I mention was in fact a copter type “Spy Drone.” The Dove shooters of course were shooting at a target they could see. One never shoots at a noise.

#12 Comment By Scott Lahti On March 26, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

Let the record show that due to a humility as unaccustomed as it may in our spiky age prove of the most fleeting, I must admit that in his “point taken” Mr. Meehan may have given my parody of the refrain from a [7] more credit for willed topical coherence than it might, save by apparent accident (or “unwittily”, as Dwight Macdonald would say), prove able to bear. And for the ration of expert enlightenment regarding the protocols of the wielders of neutralization in field and in stream, I am grateful.

#13 Comment By racing On March 27, 2012 @ 3:46 am

I’m sorry but I’m spoiled now. I only like charts where Romney is “off the chart”.

#14 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On March 27, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

Scott, OK, I confess. I glossed you comment and mistook “When drones fry …” to when drones FLY. I’ve never knowingly listened to Prince so the whole thing flew drone-like over my head.