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Tacocopter Grounded by Federal Regulations

Photo courtesy of rellim/Flickr

Never heard of the Tacocopter? If you guessed that it is a helicopter that brings tacos you’d be right. Actually, the official advertising calls the Tacocopter a flying robot (I would have loved to see tacobots!) but now we’re just getting into semantics. Designed to fly tacos to hungry denizens in the Bay area, Tacocopter works by using G.P.S. to target purchasers who make an order with their smart phones. Indeed, it is the stuff dreams are made of.


Alas, tacos won’t be flying over our heads anytime soon. Why? As Star Simpson (one of the creators of Tacocopter) told Huffington Post writer Jeff Gilbert for his article “Tacocopter Aims to Deliver Tacos Using Unmanned Drone Helicopters,” it’s “because of the FAA’s regulations — as well as other minor problems, like navigating the treacherous terrain of an urban environment, keeping the food warm, finding a city map precise enough to avoid crashes 100 percent of the time, avoiding birds, balconies and telephone wires, delivering food to people indoors, delivering food to the right person, dealing with greedy humans who would just steal the Tacocopter as soon as it got to them, etc. — the Tacocopter website exists more as a conversation starter about the future of food delivery.”

So sure, there are lots of problems involved, but federal regulations are at the top of the list. It’s not impossible to imagine taco drones designed with bird/theft prevention technology, better guidance systems, and a heated/weatherproof compartment, but unless the law changes, any use of this tech would be illegal simply because the FAA does not allow the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial purposes. Tacocopter isn’t the only business that’s being held back by the “no commercial use” law. Those who would like to use drones to take photographs for advertising real estate have also faced government crack-down.

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