You might have heard that Kroger plans to experiment with drone delivery from one of its grocery stores in Centerville soon.
Only neighborhoods near the store are eligible, and the package can’t weigh more than 5 pounds. Kroger said it could foresee such uses as people on a picnic calling for a drone delivery of the mayonnaise they forgot.
Given the American taste for instant gratification, I foresee far more creative uses for drone delivery than that. And also high potential for unintended consequences. Here is my forecast, based mostly on my bias for absurd outcomes:
Drones will deliver to moving vehicles
We all know hard-charging vacation dads who are hellbent on driving 1,200 miles in a single day. So I’m sure there will be a demand for drones that can drop an 18-piece bucket of fried chicken through the sunroof of an SUV at 75 mph.
Everybody eats, no lunch stop required.
Little kids will order deliveries by mistake
Recently a 4-year-old in New York managed to order $2,600 worth of SpongeBob SquarePants Popsicles on Amazon. They were delivered the old-fashioned way. But it’s easy to imagine a resourceful preschooler with smartphone access directing a fleet of drones to carpet-bomb his front yard with 5,000 pounds of Gummi Bears.
Home improvement will get complicated
I don’t know about your house, but in mine every do-it-yourself project involves at least three hardware store visits per eight hours of labor. This provides valuable thinking time. When nuts, bolts, rivets and rolls of duct tape can be air-dropped in 15 minutes, however, there will be nothing to slow me down. And that’s not a good thing.
Pizza piracy will rage
Doesn’t pizza by drone sound like the holy grail of food delivery? No more 90-minute waits on a busy Friday night. But I predict all those airborne, extra-large pepperonis will be too much for hungry thieves armed with slingshots to resist. Anti-aircraft fire will fill the skies, and armored pizza drones with fighter escorts will become commonplace.
Your cravings will be exposed
Gluten-free vegan by day, junk-food addict by night? The whir of approaching propellers might well tip off the neighbors. And if not, everybody has a security camera now. The footage is clearly going to show that bacon cheeseburger arriving by air at 1 a.m.
Amusing collisions will dominate the news
With the skies full of delivery drones, funny mishaps seem unavoidable: A pharmacy drone bearing antacids collides with a diner drone delivering chili dogs. A peanut butter drone smacks into a jelly drone, raining an elementary school lunch on a quiet neighborhood. QAnon adherents awaiting a delivery of tin-foil hats are outraged to learn that the drone crash-landed at Bill Gates’ house.
Where will it all end? I don’t know, but it will be a long way from mayonnaise.
Joe Blundo is a Dispatch columnist.