For next year’s Shocker Business Plan Competition, I’ll be entering a new, unheard-of business idea.  As CJ Lett said at the beginning of the semester, “I’ve never seen an idea that wouldn’t work if you didn’t give up on it.”

There’s been pizza delivery services for decades.  Chinese food delivery.  Even barbecue delivery and steak delivery.

But what about pie delivery?

What I propose is an airborne drone-enabled pie-delivery system.  It will be called Pie In The Sky.

We will deploy drones throughout the Wichita area equipped with a storage cell containing delicious pies.  They will fly to your address and deliver a pie after you’ve ordered and paid online.

Airborne drones have been becoming cheaper and cheaper, and already you can buy one that actually could deliver a pie (two-pound payload) for $600.

One of the biggest expenses for a delivery service is paying the driver of the delivery vehicle.  You have to reimburse them for both their gasoline and their time, and gasoline keeps getting more and more expensive.

Modern technology has enabled the steady advance of machine-aided replacement of traditionally human functions, such as self-checkout replacing clerks in grocery stores; airborne drones replacing human-piloted vehicles in military air-strikes in warzones and non-warzones; and computer algorithms capable of thousands or even millions of transactions per second replacing stock traders in what is called “high-frequency trading”.  The machine-enabled digitization of currency has fundamentally changed the nature of money itself.  Pilotless or driverless delivery vehicles could save an incalculable amount of money and make countless jobs obsolete.

For a more down-to-Earth approach, it might also be possible to deliver things using unmanned cars.  Google has been working on developing a self-driving car:

I was originally going to post this yesterday as an April Fool’s Day joke, but the more I think about it and read about it the more it seems like use of drones for delivery of commercial goods is not as completely ridiculous as it at first seems.  (Though I’m still not really going to be entering a drone-based idea next year.)  Google had at least one popular April Fool’s Day joke, but the unmanned automobile is a real project.  The US military is already using unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver things (other than bombs) with the RQ-17 Shadow drone and other systems.  Next door to Kansas, Mesa County, Colorado recently cut the cost of an annual landfill survey from $10,000 to $200 by using a drone instead of a piloted craft.

And I didn’t know about this when I thought up the Pie In The Sky idea, but in 2011 a group in Silicon Valley seriously tried to test out this very idea with a project called TacoCopter.  They were only stopped by the fact that unmanned aerial vehicles aren’t yet permitted by the FAA for commercial use.  There’s a long list of practical considerations that would have to be overcome, but if it’s already a reality with the RQ-17, unmanned delivery vehicles probably do have a future in the private sector.  In Alaska, supplies often have to be transported by air anyway.

Give it enough time, and the technological landscape will have transformed enough that automated vehicles will be at least feasible in the private sector.  I thought it was ridiculous, but it’s not so unworkable after all.  Maybe CJ Lett was right.

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