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 youre standing.
With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we’re going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air. This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.
We’re just starting so we haven’t figured everything out yet. But we can’t limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore. These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we’re building, that’s more than enough.
Legislation just signed by President Obama directs the Federal Aviation Administration to open the skies to remotely controlled drones within the next three years. It will begin in 90 days with police and first responders having authority to fly smaller drones of less than 4.4 pounds at altitudes under 400 feet. Gradually, all drones are to be allowed by Sept. 30, 2015.
In his lab at Penn, Vijay Kumar and his team build flying quadrotors, small, agile robots that swarm, sense each other, and form ad hoc teams — for construction, surveying disasters and far more.
But these little flying video and audio recorders, paired with powerful data analysis tools, make previously unthinkable levels of surveillance possible, even easy. Before the Internet, tracking someones reading and shopping activities would have been nearly impossible without a private detective.
I, for one, welcome our new robot flying overlords.