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What will Google's drones deliver in its upcoming trials?

Answer: Chipotle burritos

by News Staff / September 13, 2016

A small group of Virginia Tech students and employees will soon be guinea pigs, so to speak, in a phase of research being conducted to test drones in food delivery.

According to a news release, the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and "Project Wing" — one of the projects being conducted by Alphabet's moonshot factory called "X" — will conduct research flights this fall at Virginia Tech, and is the project's first collaboration with a Federal Aviation Administration-approved unmanned aircraft test site.

More specifically, the plan is to run the test this month, wrote X Director Astro Teller. Here, testers will "be able to order their lunch (prepared by Chipotle on site in a food truck) from our aircraft over a period of several days."

As for how the team settled on delivering food for this trial? It’s simple, Teller wrote.

"Our goal is to maximize learning, and food delivery poses a rich set of operating challenges that few other testing scenarios have. A lunchtime rush of burrito orders will crank up the operational pressure of multiple orders coming in during a short period of time. We’ll get to test how to package sensitive cargo and how well it endures the journey (after all, everyone wants their meal hot and in the right shape). In future tests, we could add a broader range of items, like drinks, which will push us to handle more weight, keep packages carefully balanced, and manage combinations of items on a single flight."

For this test, Project Wing and Virginia Tech have worked closely to make sure that appropriate safety measures are in place.

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