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Google hover-drones to drop burritos on campus

Not a half-baked stoner movie: US aviation authorities have signed this off as a trial

It sounds like the plot of a half-baked stoner movie screenplay, but it's actually happening: Google boss company Alphabet and Mexican food chain Chipotle have become the flying burrito brothers under a delivery-by-drone plan that will first target the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

Alphabet has been tinkering with drones for a while as part of its Project Wing plan to have drones hover and drop payloads on a winch. Like all would-be drone operators, Alphabet's doubtless noted that the United States Federal Aviation Administration recently announced commercial drone operation guidelines, removing the need for drone operators to be pilots but also imposing strict line-of-sight and fly-during-sunlight rules.

Those new rules mean that Alphabet and Chipotle have devised a recipe whereby the latter will prepare tasty treats in a food truck and the former will transport them to hungry students at Virginia Tech. Drones will hover above customers, who will need to thrust their hands into the sky to retrieve the burritos as they descend on the end of a winched tether.

Bloomberg reports the University is one of half a dozen test sites Alphabet has secured for the largest-scale urban drone test to date. The payload was chosen in part to test if it is possible to keep food warm in the air.

El Reg imagines that if Alphabet collects data on delivery failures due to fits of laughter, or repeat orders, it will also be a useful way to – ahem - weed out students who may be paying more attention to snacks than studies. ®

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