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.