How far along are we on the drone delivery front? Virginia Tech students are experiencing drone deliveries firsthand, but spoiler alert: the drones aren’t arriving at their doorsteps.
While drone delivery is intended to make things more efficient, but the reality is, at this point, we’re really not there yet. I talked to some Virginia Tech students to get their perspectives on what getting Chipotle burritos delivered by drone was like, and here’s what they told me.
Below is an excerpt of a story I wrote for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire article here.
Something was buzzing recently at Virginia Tech—and it brought Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. burritos along with it.
Alphabet Inc.’s Project Wing, a division of X (formerly known as Google X), tested its delivery drones late last month at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, or VTTI, about 4 miles from the main Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The deliveries’ recipients were Virginia Tech students, including Ben Robson, an industrial systems engineering student and self-described ‘tech nerd’ who was hungry for a burrito and wanted to check out the hype.
Robson registered as a volunteer with Project Wing, he told MarketWatch in a telephone interview. After receiving an invitation to participate, he boarded a Blacksburg Transit Bus prearranged by Project Wing at Virginia Tech’s Squires Student Center for a 10-minute ride to VTTI. There, he was chauffeured to a temporary tent situated at the top of the hill, protected in the front with a net. Just down the hill in plain site sat a Chipotle food truck, where the burritos were prepared and loaded into the drones.
Robson paid for the cost of the burrito plus a $5.99 delivery fee, which he split with a woman in line next to him since the drone can carry multiple burritos. Then, he waited about five minutes and stepped up to the front of the tent.
“There was a viewing area where you could watch the drone fly toward us,” he said.
The drone descended to its dropping altitude and lowered a box that was attached by a rope. The box of two burritos landed on a target painted onto the grass, pretty close to the middle, the rope was released and the drone flew away.
“I think at first a lot of people thought the burritos would get delivered to our apartment,” said Makena Glemser, a junior at Virginia Tech. “That would have been cooler. If drone delivery actually happened, you wouldn’t want to drive somewhere to pick it up. You would want to have it dropped off at your front door.”
Robson finished his burrito at the site, but when he was ready to leave, there was an issue.
“Funny enough, myself and the woman I was with missed the last bus, so one of the representatives we were with had to drive us back to campus,” he said.
On the way, they may have passed a more efficient way for Robson to have scored his burrito. There is a Chipotle 0.2 miles—a 5 minute walk—from Squires Student Center.