03 April 2012

Robots

Marginal Revolution | Tyler Cowen | The real competitor to driverless cars

Enter the Tacocopter. It does not seem to be a hoax:
The Internet is going wild for Tacocopter, perhaps the next great startup out of Silicon Valley, which boasts a business plan that combines four of the most prominent touchstones of modern America: tacos, helicopters, robots and laziness.

Indeed, the concept behind Tacocopter is very simple, and very American: You order tacos on your smartphone and also beam in your GPS location information. Your order — and your location — are transmitted to an unmanned drone helicopter (grounded, near the kitchen where the tacos are made), and the tacocopter is then sent out with your food to find you and deliver your tacos to wherever you’re standing.

You pay online, so the tacos are simply dropped off at your feet by the drone helicopter, which then flies back to the restaurant to pick up its next order.
The article is here. And yet there is bad news afoot, and it is no surprise:
The U.S. government is single-handedly preventing you from ordering a taco and having it delivered to you by a totally sweet pilot-less helicopter.
(0) Damn you, FAA. I don't need any more barriers between me and the future. Or between me and burritos.

(1) Whenever I tell people I do AI research someone will always, without fail, make a joke about me hastening an uprising of killer robots. (For the record, I have not touched a robot since undergrad, and those were less threatening than Roombas.)

Tacocopter is my new standard rejoinder. Yes, maybe robots will revolt and kill us all. But between now and then we will be able to feast on fresh, airlifted tacos.


(2) My advisor just put a bunch of effort into a grant proposal for quadrotors to help emergency response teams. This seems like a good idea, since there's always money for anything terrorism-related. But my response to that project was "yeah, that seems useful" and my response to TacoCopter is "holy shit, let's get some top men on this immediately."

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