US Government: drones can kill you, but they can’t bring you tacos

One of the difficulties in arguing against licensing requirements is that the innovation they prevent is unseen.

But a brilliant MIT grad named Star Simpson is making the unseen seen via the Tacocopter. It’s a small, unmanned drone helicopter that would deliver orders made via smartphone to locations determined via smartphone users’ GPS.

Would, but can’t. The journalists at Wired got super excited, only to find out that Tacocopter is a no-go¬†until the FAA relaxes regulations requiring difficult-to-obtain licenses for unmanned aircraft. So the punchline is that the government can kill you with drones but it won’t let Tacocopter use them to deliver your tacos.

Tagline: Our unmanned delivery agents are fast and work tirelessly.

But why? Unmanned drones require difficult-to-obtain licenses because pilots lobbied for the requirements. Pilots know unmanned aircraft is competition. And what do you do about competition in a corporatist state? You rent seek. Licensure is perfect rent seeking because it artificially limits competition.

When cops were trying to use drones to aid with surveillance, pilots teamed up with the ACLU to fight the law, and not because they were worried about civil liberties.

So this is a brilliant move by Simpson to make at least one thing that we’re missing out on as a society due to corporatism extremely clear. Here’s hoping the taco lobby is stronger than the pilot lobby and the Wired journalists get their tacos real soon.

Rabbit trail begun via Tyler Cowan’s Marginal Revolution blog.

One Comment

  1. Steve Davis

    I am a professional commercial Airline pilot with over 13000 hours of flight time and over 25 years flying experience. I can assure you that any opposition to drone use by private or public entities coming from professional pilots is strictly based on safety concerns. We are not concerned with who flies the drones, nor do we consider them “competition” for our jobs, as they are clearly not. The concern is that the drones/UAV’s are large enough and heavy enough now to inflict catastrophic (fatal) damage to manned aircraft in the event of a midair collision, and sharing the airspace with them presents unique new levels of risk to pilots and passengers of manned aircraft. All the traditional aviation community is asking for is a set of rules that allows us to continue to operate with the same extremely high level of safety that we as pilots and ATC controllers have worked so hard to attain, as we begin to share the airspace with these new aircraft. The obvious problem with a UAV– even a UAV with the safest, most professional pilot/operator in the world–is that the UAV pilot simply does not have the same level of personal investment in the absolutely safe outcome of every flight as the pilot of a manned aircraft necessarily does. In the event of a UAV/Airplane midair collision, it is an unimaginably terrible day for the UAV pilot which will change his life–but he still goes home for dinner with his family. The crew and passengers in the airplane are returned to their families as fragmentary human remains and dental records in plastic garbage bags and mortuary boxes.

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