We won the Cold War and Space Race for this?
We’ve discussed drones, the attendant privacy issues, and their commercial potential exhaustively, but a recent event serves as a cruel mockery of the freedoms we cherish. While the Federal Aviation Administration, politicians, and privacy advocates continue to squabble over domestic drone regulations, Russia — not exactly a pillar of individual liberty — allowed a local pizza joint to deliver a hot pie from the air.
DoDo Pizza, from the Komi republic's capital city of Syktyvkar, launched its first unmanned delivery this past Saturday (June 21st), delivering the pie in 30 minutes — Dominos, anyone? — and the pizzeria plans to make this a regular practice.
The chopper drones are equipped with cameras monitored by the restaurant’s manager, who calls the patron upon delivery to protect against theft. Once the patron’s identity is confirmed, a cable lowers the pizza. Another anti-theft device: If someone tugs on the cable too hard, an emergency mechanism releases the cable.
All kidding aside, this seemingly inconsequential event — though nothing involving pizza is ever inconsequential — is emblematic of our failure, as a nation, to embrace a promising technology with anything short of fear, suspicion, and regulation. Like cave men shirking the benefits of fire.
Privacy advocates are right to question law enforcement’s penchant for unmanned aerial vehicles and the infinite potential for abuse. But delivering a pizza? Or beer? Or flowers on Valentine’s Day? Seems a bit … paranoid.
DoDo Pizza’s historic flight is a mockery of the freedoms we cherish. No one would ever mistake Russia for a shining beacon of liberty, but they’ve embraced free-market innovation while we squabble over ludicrous assumptions.
Exhibit A: Earlier this year, a local brewery in Minnesota made plans to deliver beer by drone. But the FAA was having none of it. They told Lakemaid to cease operations (of the unmanned sort). The hang-up? Domestic drones are currently banned for commercial purposes or flying above 400 feet. And the reasoning? Privacy ... or something.
And while we’re squabbling over domestic drone regulations — which won’t take effect until at least 2015, and probably later — DoDo pizza is delivering piping hot slices of deliciousness by air halfway around the world.
I consider myself a staunch defender of individual liberty and privacy rights, but our zealous crusade to protect the citizenry from airborne pizza (or beer) goes a bit too far. We’ve got it exactly backwards. As Reason.com points out, it’s incumbent upon legislators to prove that something causes real harm before restricting its use. And vague paranoia isn’t enough.
Or as CNN mentions, “the next generation of friendly drones aren't all packing weapons or collecting data for the NSA. Some just want to bring you a nice cold one and maybe a slice without getting stuck in traffic.”