Drones will soon be delivering Chipotle
burritos to students and employees across Virginia Tech’s campus.
The Tex Mex chain has teamed up with Project Wing to test autonomous flights and deliveries. Project Wing is an extension of X, an innovation lab run by Google parent company Alphabet
. An Alphabet spokesperson told Fortune that the project’s first real-world test flight took place two years ago, but this is the first one that involves external users.
Project Wing will deliver burritos from Chipotle to a small group of students and employees at Virginia Tech starting next week. The drones will deliver burritos by lowering them with a winch, according to Bloomberg.
Virginia Tech is one of six groups that make up the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, which is essentially a set of locations approved by the Federal Aviation Administration as unmanned test beds. Mark Blanks, the partnership director, told Bloomberg, “This is the most complex delivery flight operation that I am aware of that’s occurred on U.S. soil.”
Drone delivery is being tested by other companies as well, most notably Amazon
, and many think that it will become the standard for delivery in the near future. But critics question its feasibility: If drone delivery is the norm, the devices would have to be able to efficiently navigate high air traffic volumes while avoiding collisions. The Chipotle burrito test will hopefully gather more data that will improve drone operations and eventually help the devices integrate into the national airspace more smoothly and safely.
“We’re certainly intrigued by the potential for aerial delivery, so we didn’t hesitate at all to sign on when we were approached by Alphabet,” a Chipotle spokesperson told Fortune. If anything, this could prove to be some good press for the chain that has been desperately trying to lure customers back after a reputation-destroying string of food safety concerns.