In what many consider the most innovative new startup idea out of Silicon Valley, the “TacoCopter” is an unmanned drone helicopter that will literally “drop off” tacos to your location.
According to the Huffington Post:
You order tacos on your smartphone and also beam in your GPS location information. Your order — and your location — are transmitted to an unmanned drone helicopter (grounded, near the kitchen where the tacos are made), and the tacocopter is then sent out with your food to find you and deliver your tacos to wherever you’re standing.
You pay online, so the tacos are simply dropped off at your feet by the drone helicopter, which then flies back to the restaurant to pick up its next order.
Brilliant, right? You’re probably ready to order a sackful of fish tacos to be delivered to you by a semi-autonomous flying robot as we speak!
Well, put down your smartphones, because here comes some bad news: The launch of Tacocopter — which is totally real, by the way, despite some doubters, and has been around since July 2011 — is being blocked by the U.S. government.
According to Star Simpson, one of the three “TacoCopter” founders, “Current U.S. FAA regulations prevent … using UAVs [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, like drones] for commercial purposes at the moment…Honestly I think it’s not totally unreasonable to regulate something as potentially dangerous as having flying robots slinging tacos over people’s heads … On 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.”
She continued that the TacoCopter could affect how we operate “in ways we don’t quite even have the ability to explore at this time,” but unfortunately, “It’s really the legal obstacles in the U.S. that seem insurmountable at this time.”
The Huffington Post concludes its article by saying:
So, there you have it: The U.S. government is single-handedly preventing you from ordering a taco and having it delivered to you by a totally sweet pilot-less helicopter. So get out your pitchforks, sign those petitions, start calling your local congressmen, and let them know: We want our tacos hurled at us by giant buzzing robotic helicopters, and we want them now.
Critics of excessive federal regulation point out that, while it is wise to ensure everyone’s safety, it is not always “one or the other.” It needn’t necessarily be a drone “hurling” a taco at your head, and could develop into a way to make all sorts of delivery jobs safer. More often than not, they say, excessive regulation just stifles potential innovation, whether it is high-class technology, or a simple TacoCopter.