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Drones Will Soon Deliver Pizza: Investor

by Brendan McGarry on November 5, 2013

Tim Draper, a third-generation venture capitalist, says drones will soon be delivering pizzas.

The founder of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson is investing in a startup called DroneDepoy, which is building software to safely operate and manage multiple drones, according to a recent article by Bloomberg News.

“Drones hold the promise of companies anticipating our every need and delivering without human involvement,” he told the financial newswire. “Everything from pizza delivery to personal shopping can be handled by drones.”

Perhaps Draper saw this YouTube video of a drone delivering a Domino’s Pizza earlier this year in the United Kingdom. While the event was largely a publicity stunt, it highlighted the technology’s potential as unmanned systems begin to migrate from the military to the commercial market.

The U.S. military still dominates the development of next-generation drones, known in military parlance as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

Earlier this year, the Navy for the first time launched and landed a drone the size of a fighter jet aboard the deck of a moving aircraft carrier. The batwing-shaped craft, known as the X-47B, was built by the defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp.

But the commercial market is poised to explode into several-billion-dollar industry over the next decade, with potential applications in such sectors as law enforcement, agriculture, border patrol, oil and gas exploration, and maritime security.

The drone used in the Domino’s ad — nicknamed the “DomiCopter” — was made by Aerosight UAV Ltd., a U.K.-based company that sells services to capture high-definition video at altitudes of as high as 400 feet, according to its website.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t yet let drones deliver pizza. But the agency is working on a plan to integrate unmanned systems into domestic airspace by September 2015, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

platypusfriend November 5, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Funny, I am writing software that prank-calls drone pizza delivery companies…

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LtKitty November 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Remember when we used to hunt with sticks and a rock? God those were the days…

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Hammer6 November 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Now we sit on our bottoms and have machines deliver food for us. I personally want to take it a step further and have the drone chew the food for me before departing.

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BlackOwl18E November 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Pizza boys everywhere are going to start crying.

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FormerDirtDart November 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm
Rest Pal November 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Just find a way to hack the drones for free pizza. It's not hard to shoot the drone down either.

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BlackOwl18E November 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

Hahaha! I could see it now. One of my southern friends leaving his house with his rifle in hand and saying he's going to "hunt" for dinner that night. When he comes back with boxes of pizza no one asks any questions.

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Musson November 8, 2013 at 7:57 am

It saves wear and tare on the old toyota camery.

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tee November 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm

I'll bet Estes or one of the other Model Rocket companies will soon be producing their "Home Defense Anti Drone Model Rocket" so the home owner can protect their local air space from unwanted surveillance of their teenage daughters.

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Rest Pal November 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm

If you dare challenge the operations of the NSA, you better build a bunker that can withstand drone-dropped air-to-surface missiles.

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blight_ November 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Faraday Cage Umbrella. Cell phone jammers are still illegal though. Grr.

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Mark November 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

For the terrorist it would end up being a "pizza and a bang." Also since pizza is supposed to be the stakeout food of choice tv police will also get these.

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rick November 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Just imagine how many pizzas would be delivered at one time!

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Little Bill November 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Not many with that size Drone.

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hibeam November 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm

This is bad news for the USPS. Hopefully we can put them out of their misery very soon.

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Dr. Horrible November 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

How is it bad news?

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Kim Scholer November 6, 2013 at 10:48 am

Yeah, USPS might as well start using drones too. May even bring a whole new meaning to the expression 'going postal', once the mail drones start attacking the drones from UPS.

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g1v3up November 6, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Nope sorry Congress prevents USPS from having any air delivery of their own. They have to contract with UPS or FEDUP for that.

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Jacob November 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm

But can this drone see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

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Tim W November 5, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Yep I can just see the insurance rates for these trundling down the streets of Manhattan loaded with pizza never mind the health and safety BS. The guy must be a friggin idiot.

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FormerDirtDart November 6, 2013 at 8:33 am

Yeah, it's all great marketing and brand profile until a drone with two large deluxes crash lands on some old lady's corgi.

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Hector Q. November 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

Yup, I was thinking the exact same thing.

Even if they can work out the tech side soon, there's the regulatory side that must be cleared up before drone delivery devices are flying above our streets. Since that involves the government, nothing will happen "soon."

Moreover, even if somehow all the tech and regulatory hurdles are soon cleared, there's no way that a low value item like pizza is going to be delivered by these drones (at least not for a long while). The insurance costs and liability risks aren't worth the relativley modest savings of getting rid of the pizza delivery guy. There would be risks; did anyone see the story a few weeks ago about a kid in NYC being killed by his remote-controlled helicoper? I can see this being used for novel, high-value applications, but probably not soon, and not for pizza.

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FormerDirtDart November 6, 2013 at 9:48 am

Hell, just paying for an air vehicle with the viable tech to actually deliver something door to door, at night, you could probably afford a small fleet of delivery guys, and their cars.

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josh . p November 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm

I can see it now… somebody see’s a drone coming that delivers pizza and they decide they want a free pizza so they get out a nice rifle and shoot it down…. didnt cost the shooter any money at all for the pizza. Pizza might not be in the best shape after it falls with the drone though lol.

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Big-B November 6, 2013 at 2:36 am

Next step the pizza-drone has to be armed for selfdefense including ecm, flares and chaff. There will be dog-fights in the sky between different pizza companies.

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Big-B November 6, 2013 at 2:47 am

If it works with pizza everything else will be delivered by drones eventually. "Hello is this Walmart Flight Control? Im on my toilet and the paper is empty, im in the Examplestreet 2, 11th Floor the window is open" ;-)

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tankjas November 6, 2013 at 10:04 am

No human involvement, more people out work, what a great idea!!!

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josh.p November 6, 2013 at 10:57 am

I think ppl will revolt against stuff like this that would put them out of work. Also i dont think every joe blows pizza sub shop could afford a drone to deliever. They would have to pay for insurance on that thing. Plus if ppl shoots the thing out of the sky then not only will the drone be destroyed.. the pizza will be stolen as well which is more money down the drain. cheaper to have the pimpled face pizza boy to deliver it.

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Big-B November 7, 2013 at 9:39 am

I agree bit if a pizza restaurant after all will earn 10 cent more per pizza im afraid the drones will come. Poor pizza boy.

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blight_ November 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Pizza can be delivered to scary neighborhoods without worrying about scary people mugging your pizza boy. Drones will fly over traffic, thus preventing anybody from getting free pizza because of your delays.

Pizzas will even have Window Delivery Service. Why leave your apartment when a drone can fly through your window? Optionally, drone will put the pizza in your mouth.

On the plus side, since drones cannot take tips, they will pre-charge you 15% for Drone Tips, plus the Drone Delivery Service.

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blight_ November 16, 2013 at 7:58 am

"I think ppl will revolt against stuff like this that would put them out of work."

Not if they're doped up on soma.

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guest November 11, 2013 at 11:37 am

I imagine that the ambulance chasers are salivating about all the law suits once people start getting smacked in the head with this thing

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Genious_1596 November 13, 2013 at 11:40 am

I can do this story one better…I'm currently designing a pizza that IS a drone. A disposable motor propels it, extra large, spinning pepperonies give it loft, and a Canadian bacon tailfin directs it. It flies to a height approx 100 ft above the residence, the motor shuts off, it freefalls, and lands with a splat to give it an old-fashioned, delivery appearance…no tip required.

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Sambo November 16, 2013 at 6:07 am

The drone can use its engines to cook the pizza's as it flys to deliver its order – yes you can have that idea for free lol

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Toya June 23, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Interesting Read

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