Beating Amazon to the punch in their area of drone-delivered goods, local startup QuiQui says they will start offering drone-based deliveries of prescription medication and other sundry drugstore items to the Mission district by July of this year.
QuiQui (as in "quickie," not "let's have a Kiki") is apparently a real thing and not a clever parody of the Internet like the mythological tacocopter. QuiQui promises to deliver small drugstore items to the door of your Mission District (of course) apartment in 15 minutes or less for a mere $1 per delivery fee. Tellingly, the company's FAQ section lists their closest competitors as Uber and Postmates, which are not exactly direct competition but they all fit the category of "on-demand luxuries."
The system works like every other smartphone-summoned, on-demand service, but with an airdropped spin: You pull up the app, drop a pin and the order heads your way. To avoid rotor wash and terrorizing small dogs, the drones maintain a minimum altitude of 20 feet, and you'll actually have to catch your new toothbrush as it falls from the sky. CEO Joshua Ziering explains the process to the Chronicle:
The drones won’t alight on your doorstep. Instead, they will stay at least 20 feet in the air to avoid bumping into people or “anything nefarious” happening — like damage to a drone or theft of a drone or its contents. When a drone arrives at a delivery site, “your phone will buzz, saying your delivery is here,” Ziering said. “You go outside and swipe to tell it to drop your order. It will drop it and then fly away. I kind of want it to beep like Roadrunner and then fly.”
Thanks to a recent court decision, drone flights are legal below 500 feet. The Mission naturally makes a good testbed for the service as it is relatively flat, free of tall buildings and literally bursting at the seams with people who are either too busy or too lazy to go out and retrieve things by themselves. QuiQui also promises to be a 24-hour service, so it should come in handy when you need a drone to bring you a box of condoms before your next trip to Mission Control.
Finally, because you can see backlash coming from a mile away when you've got a drone's-eye view, the company says they want to be sensitive to the "hot topic" of gentrification in the Mission. "We understand that drones cruising around the neighborhood may not be well received," reads the company's press page. "We've worked extra hard to make sure our drones are quiet and respectful of the neighborhood. For example, we avoid schools and parks on our flight paths." We're guessing that last promise will fly out the window as soon as someone decides they need their Klonopin delivered to Dolores Park.