The Cold War is heating back up and the Russians have an edge on The Land of the Free in one critical arena: drone-delivered pizza.
The Russian Federation – whether its restricting speech online, making work visas more difficult to obtain, or muscling ethnic minorities in the recently snatched Crimean peninsula – is not exactly known for its commitment to limited government. And yet, The Moscow Times reported yesterday on an activity that the Ivan Dragos of the world get to enjoy while the Rocky Balboas do not:
A pizzeria in the Komi republic's capital city of Syktyvkar has launched a helicopter drone-delivery service.
DoDo Pizza's first unmanned delivery was made on Saturday to much applause from witnesses in the city's main square. …
The drone was able to complete its task in just half an hour, and the pizzeria's owners plan to make drone deliveries a regular practice.
This is the Sputnik of 2014, people.
Why is it that Russians (and others worldwide) can get a quintessentially American dish delivered by an unmanned aerial vehicle, but Americans cannot? Regulations courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA is tasked with rolling out a set of regulations for commercial drone use in the U.S. by 2015, but in the meantime, they've left businesses in a sort of legal limbo. The agency has this year grounded operations of a beer delivery service, a flower delivery service, and even a volunteer search-and-rescue organization, because they don't conform to FAA rules (which aren't necessary legally binding). The agency made some progress earlier this month by allowing BP to become the first fully approved commercial drone operator, but that doesn't exactly deserve applause. Apparently, it took over a year to work that deal out, and it shows the FAA is more interested in picking winners and losers than simply allowing any business to adopt drone technology and become more cost effective for consumers.
Of couse, you just might get pepper-sprayed by a drone in America. Read Scott Shackford's coverage of that here.