If you are a bit spooked by Amazon's recently revealed delivery drone, you may find Groupon's answer to the flying robot a bit more palatable.
Like Amazon, Groupon is taking its inspiration from military technology for a new package delivery system. But while Amazon's drone is based on cutting edge tech, Groupon is instead resurrecting a tried and true design—the catapult.
Capable of firing objects of many sizes and shapes over backyard fences, rooftops, and fortified castle walls, the catapult offers many of the same convenience of the drone, without all of the 1984.
In an apparent attempt to build some buzz, Groupon released their send up of Amazon's highly publicized drone project in a video released on YouTube.
"We are a technology company, but we draw the line at creating autonomous robots that buzz by your house, wake up your sleeping baby, who knows, take pictures of you in the shower," said Everett Weiss, a Groupon employee who worked on the catapult project.
Amazon says its unmanned aircraft, which the company unveiled just a couple of weeks ago, could put orders into the hands of customers in less than 30 minutes. The machines are powered by eight helicopter blades. Critics say the devices are creepy, and the federal government said they are so illegal Amazon could not even film its promotional test flight for the parcel-carrying robots in the United States.
Refusing to break character during a brief interview, Weiss said his next plans for "innovation" at Groupon include a "going hyperlocal" by employing town criers who will "go from town to town and port to port", announcing Groupon deals "about to break on the morrow".
"I can't think of a better way to bring the future to the present by reaching into the antiquated past," Weiss said.
While the FAA is expected to pick six sites across the US where it will test the concept of privately owned drones, it looks like the less intrusive catapult is still the way to go. Hopefully, the folks at Groupon have good aim.