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Has Iceland introduced “drone-based pizza delivery”?

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Yes, but only in one city.

In 2015, an Israel-based Drone company named Flytrex began promoting their upcoming drone delivery system. This system, however, was not available for a few years following its announcement. In the last quarter of 2017, an Iceland-based food delivery company named Aha began to work with Flytrex to potentially launch a drone food delivery system in the town of Reykjavik. They worked to develop routes through the city for the drones to travel to make their deliveries. Aha was able to successfully launch the delivery system after creating a few regulations for their drones that allow them to deliver to half of the city of Reykjavik. More information about Aha's drone delivery service can be seen on their official website.

Origin and Prevalence

Confusion over the veracity of drone-delivered pizza is not unwarranted. Back in 2012, rumor began to spread of TacoCopter, which claimed to use drones paired with a snazzy app to deliver tacos to anyone in the San Francisco Bay area. The fake start-up was first mentioned in February on AdCiv.org, a website dedicated to documenting emerging technology that could "take [humans] to the next logical phase of civilisation." Similar to Wikipedia, AdCiv can be edited by anyone. Within a month TacoCopter was picked on by several popular websites including Cult of Mac and PCWorld, the latter of which initially seemed unsure if TacoCopter was legitimate. WIRED was soon on the case and proved beyond a doubt that TacoCopter was not real. True to this day, regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) make the possibility of drone delivery in most U.S. states unrealistic. Regardless, U.S. news sites such as the Washington Post quickly picked up on the same concept when Iceland gave it a go in August of 2017. The company, Flytrex, posted on their blog on August 23 when they finally found a partnership with AHA, a food delivery company, and the story went viral soon after. International news organizations such as the BBC in 2018 have persisted in updating the story, adding to its world fame. The idea remains appealing to American audiences and so continues to be spread on Twitter and other social media sites.

Issues and Analysis

This claim drew a lot of attention because it invoked people's fears about change, the future, and new technology. The claim that Iceland had introduced pizza-delivery via drone, while not false, was blown out of proportion. The Flytrex-Aha partnership remains constrained to the Icelandic town of Reykjavik and a single golf course in North Dakota. As discussed in a video on drone-based delivery in Rwanda, drone manufacturers currently face issues such as noise level restrictions, air traffic control regulations, and difficulty with cellular connectivity. One of the major concerns for drone manufacturers is that there is no overarching air-traffic control system for all drones in the same way that there is for airplanes, and technology for automatic detection and evasion is not entirely there yet. Commercial autonomous drones won't be viable until they mitigate the risk of hitting into objects, pets, or people. There is also the chance that goods en route may be stolen, as drones can be hacked, their GPS signals intercepted, or shot down with a basic rifle. Additionally, government regulations on airspace have not yet been adapted for the use of drones, making their use currently restricted. For these reasons, the Flytrex drones remain remotely controlled by human handlers.

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