Authorities Ground Shanghai Cake Drone

A senior anti-narcotics official revealed in February that Beijing had rejected the use of a drone strike to assassinate drug lord Naw Kham, who was later captured and executed by more conventional means. Last week, Chinese civil aviation authorities also rejected a Shanghai bakery’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver cakes. From Shanghai Daily (via Malcolm Moore at The Telegraph):

The factory used remote-controlled aircraft on five different occasions to “fly” cakes across the Huangpu River to customers in downtown, claimed Men Ruifeng, the marketing manager of the Incake company, which only accepts orders online.

[…] “What if the cake or even the drone fell on a passer-by from the 100 meters,” a netizen asked.

[…] Unmanned aircraft have to be approved by the civil aviation authority before being used for business, said an official with the civil aviation’s East China Regional Administration.

Moreover, the company also has to apply to the administration and report its flying details, especially those over the downtown areas, the official pointed out. He said the authorities plan to come up with a new unmanned aircraft management regulation to manage drones that may become a common sight in the future. [Source]

Shanghaiist posted promotional video of the cakecopter in action:

The bakery’s drone deliveries, like supposed test flights in the UK by Domino’s Pizza and Yo! Sushi, are likely no more than a stunt, but do highlight the general lag in regulation to accommodate civilian drone use. In the U.S., FedEx founder Fred Smith has said that he hopes to start using unmanned aircraft as soon as possible, but the Federal Aviation Authority is not due to produce rules governing domestic drone use until 2015. In the meantime, businesses like San Francisco-based Tacocopter—whose founders admitted that it existed mainly as “a conversation starter”—will remain grounded. “Honestly I think it’s not totally unreasonable to regulate something as potentially dangerous as having flying robots slinging tacos over people’s heads,” one of them told The Huffington Post last year. “On the other hand, it’s a little bit ironic that that’s the case in a country where you can be killed by drone with no judicial review.”

In other drone news, India’s army logged 155 violations of its airspace over the seven months to February 2013 by Chinese spy drones that turned out to be the planets Jupiter and Venus. See more on China’s advancing drone capabilities via CDT.


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