The year 2015 has already been jammed with updates about the development of drones, self-driving cars, and app-based taxi services. In the fever dreams of tech futurists, the next step was obvious: a self-flying drone taxi service.
Moovel lab, which calls itself a "anti-disciplinary creative space," recently made a faux-documentary purportedly capturing footage of mysterious drones in the skies of Los Angeles who happen to be ferrying humans—a scenario which still counts as science fiction at the moment, where the heaviest things that commercial drones carry are 6-pound medicine packs.
In real life, moovel lab primarily does data analysis for the ride-sharing company car2go.
The video includes "interviews" with aviation technology experts, witnesses describing the taxi, and moovel's CEO, who refused to confirm or deny whether the drone was his company's creation.
As preposterous as the idea may seem, the technology for self-flying drones is already well underway. When Amazon filed a patent for its Prime Air drone delivery service, it alluded to an autonomous system directing the drones to the individual customers.
If drone taxi services face any obstacles in the future, they would likely be the same ones that ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have met: lobbying by existing stakeholders like taxi-medallion owners and the regulators that help suppress their competition.
Commercial drone activities are currently all but outlawed in the United States: companies like Amazon have to get special permission from federal regulators just to test their drones, and provisional rules governing the use of drones by business are expected in 2017 at the earliest.
Drone makers will also have to find a way to make their devices more quiet if the mass deployment of drones for delivery and transportation purposes should happen on an industrial scale.