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Pizza Delivered by Drone - Commercial Drone Future is Now
2013-06-05 0:00

By Elizabeth Leafloor | Red Ice Creations

Rural dwellers rejoice - pizza delivery right to your door! As long as you don’t mind drones hovering outside your window.

Domino’s UK has teamed up with a drone company to deliver their product via unmanned aerial drone outside of London city limits. Delivery is traditionally restricted to within urban range of the local pizzeria, but no longer!

Watch as "DomiCopter" takes to the skies and delivers the pie to hungry customers:

Most recognize this for what it is - a clever marketing stunt with aspirations of going viral, and at this point it isn’t a truly viable means of getting product to customer.

For now there remain several stumbling blocks that mar the perfect pizza dream:

- Even small drones and quadcopters at present are DANGEROUS. The rapidly spinning blades are a serious threat to anything that might come into contact with them. How does the customer take the pizza from the drone? Carefully, one imagines.
[Police Drone Crashes into Police]

- The cost of any drone delivery service is going to be prohibitively high at this point. Included in the price of your pizza is undoubtedly the cost of investing in the high tech equipment and a qualified ’drone pilot foodstuff conveyance engineer’.

- As demonstrated in the video, the customer will have to actually DON PANTS and LEAVE THE HOUSE to get the pizza. This is unacceptable, and counter to the spirit of traditional home pizza delivery.

However, employing drones for commercial use is a big, booming business and will soon be a reality.

The BBC reported in 2012:

The skies open up for large civilian drones
[...[Millions of pounds are being sunk into civilian projects - everything from border security to police surveillance and even transporting goods.

This year the US Congress passed legislation giving US airspace regulator the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) until September 2015 to open up its airspace to drones, and Britain is expected to follow suit.

The UK’s airspace regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), has told BBC Newsnight that large unmanned drones could be flying in British skies by the end of the decade.

The CAA has already handed out 120 permits to fly small, lightweight drones. By 2020 this may be extended to larger unmanned aircraft.

"In aviation terms you can probably equate where we are with unmanned technology now to manned flight in 1918 or the early 1920s," Gerry Corbett at the CAA said.

"We’ve found them useful in war fighting and we can see the way ahead for commercial use."

Large defence companies and small start-up firms are investing heavily in what many think could soon be a market worth tens of billions of pounds. Source

From Inhabitat:
Drones, or unmanned aircrafts, are becoming more common and more affordable — and as a result, they’re not just for the military anymore. To meet growing interest, the UK’s Civilian Aviation Authority will soon open the world’s first airport dedicated to drones, located in Southern Wales.

The airport — a pimped-out version of the West Wales Airport — will feature a 4,100-foot runway and sit amid a 500-square-mile swath of airspace also reserved for drones. Currently, about 10,000 people live below the airspace.

The expanded airport hopes to lure commercial firms who are developing drones.

Drones and robotics are making giant strides, and even though the commercial side of it is an attempt to make use of good, innovative, efficient tech, one cannot be blinded to the repercussions of drones over cities, towns, houses.

Once the realm of dystopian fantasy, ubiquitous surveillance will be reality.

Already strong warnings are being sounded globally regarding drone use over civilian airspace. Recently, US Attorney General Holder announced they’d extrajudicially droned 4 American civilians to death, some of them ’accidentally’. This adds to the enormous tally of innocent and avoidable deaths in the US drone campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

At this point the laws or restrictions regulating civilian commercial or private ’recreational’ drone use is nebulous and vague.
The US reportedly is still hammering out details, with some states banning civilian (but not police or military) drone use. Some call the legality of drones a ’grey area’:
[...]drones can fly quite close above people’s property and be on safe legal ground.

But the bigger threat to privacy is less likely to come from nosy neighbors with tiny camera-equipped model aircraft than from well-funded law enforcement agencies or businesses that can afford to launch sophisticated drones with high-power cameras.

Brandon Stark, a drone researcher at the University of California, Merced, told the scientists at a workshop Tuesday that smaller drones are not yet sophisticated enough to merit privacy advocates’ concerns about spying. “If you’re flying [a small drone] 100 feet into the sky, you’re lucky to see a tree. Actually spying on people is fairly difficult and fairly expensive,” he said.

Those who can actually afford the most powerful drones are likely to be law enforcement agencies with grants from the federal government, or businesses hoping to turn a profit. That could mean a big expansion in the ability of police to gather evidence and detect crime. A 1989 Supreme Court ruling held that police can use images from manned aircraft to aid their investigations without first obtaining a warrant. In that case, a sheriff discovered a man was growing marijuana in a greenhouse by sending a helicopter to fly overhead at just 400 feet without first having to prove to a judge he had good reason to search his home.

Privacy advocates are concerned that drones will take police power to another level, since drones could in theory hover around an area continuously, surveying from the skies and reporting any suspicious activity.

Drones are tightly regulated right now by the Federal Aviation Administration, which prohibits people from using them in any commercial endeavor and requires public institutions to apply for authorization to use them. (Hobbyists can fly small drones as long as they’re within sight at all times and stay under 400 feet.)

But that’s all expected to change in 2015, when the agency is required by Congress to open up the skies to commercial uses of drones and attempt to integrate unmanned and manned aircraft. The agency estimates that nearly 10,000 new drones will be in flight in just the first few years after the commercial ban is lifted. Source

But in the United Kingdom, where Domino’s staged this pizza delivery victory, there are some rules to go by:

- It is legal to fly your own drone in the UK without any special permission if it weighs less than 20kg and it is flying more than 150m from a congested area

- But permission from the CAA is required if it is used for a commercial activity like aerial photography

- Permission has been given for inspecting power lines, police use and crop surveillance

- Direct visual contact with the drone is currently required at all times

- Drones larger than 20kg would have to be approved for use by the CAA for use in UK airspace in the same way as commercial aircraft

- The CAA has made clear that it will not ok their use until it is convinced the drone can automatically ’sense and avoid’ other aircraft

The last issue is whether a pizza delivered by drone tastes like freedom or oppression.

Eat up!

By Elizabeth Leafloor, Red Ice Creations

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