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“Brent Skorup and Eli Dourado on Airspace Auctions and Supersonic Aviation” (Two Think Minimum)

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Sarah Oh: Hi and welcome back to TPI’s podcast, Two Think Minimum. It’s Wednesday, September 18, 2019 and I’m Sarah Oh, Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. I’m joined today by Tom Lenard, Senior Fellow and President Emeritus at the Technology Policy Institute. Today we’re excited to talk with Brent Skorup and Eli Dourado on airspace auctions and supersonic aviation.

Brent Skorup is a lawyer and Senior Research Fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research areas include telecommunications, transportation, technology regulation, and wireless policy. He serves on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee and is the Vice Chair of the Competitive Access subcommittee. He has authored pieces in a wide variety of outlets and has appeared on different news outlets as well.

Eli Dourado is an economist and recently served as Head of Global Policy and Communications at Boom Supersonic, and before that, as a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He has written on a wide range of technology policy issues including internet governance, intellectual property, cybersecurity and cryptocurrency. His focus on aviation innovation includes topics such as commercial drones, supersonic flight, and flying cars. His popular writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and other outlets, and he was formally an advisor to the State Department on international telecommunication matters.

Welcome Brent and Eli. Thanks for coming to Two Think Minimum, our podcast here. It’s fascinating to me that I know you as technology policy scholars and you’ve both migrated towards a portfolio that includes aviation policy. I just wanted to start off on the debate that you two were having. Is aviation policy different from spectrum policy and how?

Brent Skorup: Well thank you for having me. I do think there are many analogs, and I laid out in a paper I published last year with the Mercatus Center called auction airspace, it’ll be published by the North Carolina Journal of Law and Technology in a few weeks, but there are many analogs, and actually just analogs with other types of federal property, federal assets, like real property, like offshore oil sites, and of course spectrum. And so I take that literature, that analysis, that economists have used and apply it to this novel area of airspace. There’s been a little talk of markets in aerospace and airport slots, but not as I envision, which is actual aerial corridors that are licensed on an exclusive basis to certain companies.

Sarah Oh: Great. And so we were chatting earlier, Eli, you disagree that spectrum and airspace are different?

Eli Dourado: Brent and I have been talking about this idea for about four or five years and we’ve never agreed on it. But I think that airspace in particular is very different from other assets we usually see auctioned off by the federal government because usually if you’re putting together a journey in the sky, you’re going to be crossing over several aerospace tracks as brand thinks about it. So you’re transiting multiple properties and that enables all kinds of incentives for competitive games, for holdout problems, for a lot of, sort of very bare knuckle and bargaining that makes it very difficult for the kinds of transactions that you would need to work. So what do we see normally in transportation networks? On roads or on sidewalks,  as we see it’s a, it’s a commons. There are rules of the road, so you know how you’re supposed to behave when you’re operating in that space. And then if there’s congestion or some problem like that, we Institute tolls. When you’re driving to Philadelphia from DC, you don’t buy a license to access a sort of 40 track of road. You just drive as it as you see fit. And then you get tolled if there’s congestion involved and so on, but you just follow the rules of the road and you go. And that makes it simpler for operators of these vehicles to be able to enter service. And it’s better for consumers too because you don’t have to worry about monopolization by, let’s say an interstate track between your home and your office, we’re owned by one company, you’d be paying potentially a monopoly price or suffering inferior service on that route. So as we bring in urban air mobility and so on, it, I think it’s important their space not be open, that it is open to as many people as possible. And then there are very real congestion issues that we’d have to deal with, but we could deal with them through your tolling or through limiting demand and in other ways.

Tom Lenard: So for those of us who are not quite as into this as you guys are, maybe you can back up a step and talk about what the major areas of aviation innovation are gonna be. When I was a kid, admittedly it was a long time ago before you guys were kids, people were talking about in 20 or 30 years, everybody’s going to have a helicopter in their driveway. That didn’t happen. At least it hasn’t happened yet. And I doubt it’s ever going to happen. What type of things can we look for in the future that are going to affect most of us?

Brent Skorup: Yeah, I’ll start. I’m glad it came back up. I should say this, this airspace concept I’m talking about the corridor auction and leasing. My papers dedicated to a certain industry, a novel aviation industry that that is, it’s called EVTL (electric vertical takeoff and landings), this would be intraurban, shuttles is how people generally think about it. And the reason I look at these areas is because the airspace is relatively clean, so you can come up with new concepts. Whereas commercial airlines, you can’t really do anything really new, they’ve just resisted too much. But with EVTL looking at a few hundred feet above the earth, it might be time to experiment with a new model because there are a lot of problems with traditional aviation. 

Tom Lenard: So how is that conceptually different from some people commute to work in a helicopter? 

Brent Skorup: And this, this is the question for the EVTL or air taxi industry is, and there’s lot going out- there’s about 200 different designs for EVTL aircraft out there around the world. Most of those will fail, but a few things have happened in the last 10 years or so. Many the technical challenges with- and these resemble helicopters and would serve many of the same functions as helicopters. However, they’re much quieter, lower maintenance, they’re often battery powered. And that makes it, in theory, more economical to have service. The idea from the companies in this area, which includes Uber but also Boeing and Airbus and other companies around the world, is that with ride sharing and with computation advancements, you can get this autonomous and drive down the cost to where it could be affordable to say professionals in an urban area. 

Tom Lenard: Within what kind of period or time frame?

Brent Skorup: It’s pretty exciting right now. There’s a Chinese drone company called eHang. They’ve been shuttling tourists in an autonomous two passenger vehicle for several months now and they’ll start commercial pilots this year. And so even the skeptics in this area, because you often come across as you talk about flying cars, as talk about EVTL, and people roll their eyes and say well we’ve heard this before. But you hear less of that because there is a fair amount of investment going into this and because of this Chinese example and major players like Boeing and Airbus in the area. So it will happen. The question is, will it just be a glorified helicopter service and fairly expensive for a small percent of people? Or will it be something that professionals could use or possibly even middle-class people? And that’s an open question.

Tom Lenard: If it’s going to be used more widely, what you’re talking about are autonomous vehicles, you wouldn’t have to have a professional pilot.

Brent Skorup: Right, and the designs that are out there are typically a two to five passenger. And if you can remove the pilot, you increase the economic value of the service, but also-

Tom Lenard: So I could have one in my driveway.

Brent Skorup: You could, and there’s a divide over which way this market will go. Will it go to kinda the flying car model that you can go frp, your house to your office? I’m skeptical. I think most companies look in this area and most analysts look at this and think, at least in the short term, if that does happen, that would be decades away. At least in the short term it will be high revenue routes between say central business district to the airport or to a football stadium or something along those lines. At least in the short term. And I would say that the foreseeable future, that’s what it would look like.

Eli Dourado: I think this will start out- so the urban air mobility market- will start out using human pilots, commercial pilots initially. At some point as the regulators get more comfortable, it will switch to remote piloting, using connectivity between the ground and the vehicle in the air, there’s no reason you couldn’t have a pilot on the ground operating. That saves weight and reduces cost that way. And then eventually you get to fully autonomous. And that’s coming, let’s call it 15 years away or something like that. But in every step it’s getting not only regulators but also customers comfortable with the advancements in piloting. But if you look at aviation more broadly, I think we’ve actually seen an incredible amount of stagnation in the field. You think about it all starting in 1903 with the Wright brothers and their first flight, and then, you know, by the 1930s we had commercial service, by 1950s we had jets including like transoceanic jet travel, get to Europe and really about the same amount of time that we’re going today. And we had the first supersonic passenger flight demonstrator flight in a 1969. In a span of 66 years, you went from Wright brothers to flying supersonic speeds. And today we don’t even have supersonic speeds. You had all these pilots coming back from World War II in 1945 everybody thought, okay, now this is gonna make aviation a part of people’s daily lives because all these people have these skills and you what are we seeing? We’ve seen general aviation completely stagnate. We’ve seen airplane designs completely stagnate. There are still some designs that were done in the 60s and 70s that are in production today, essentially with more modern avionics. I think there’s a huge opportunity for aviation to take a big step forward. 

And I think it has a huge effect on our lives too, because the thing about getting places faster is that it’s not just like sort of a linear benefit if you go twice as fast as not just twice as good. If you think about the number of places that you can get to within four hours, if you can go twice as fast, you quadruple the number of places you can get to within four hours. It’s quadratic. So if you can go six times faster, you can get 36 times as many places faster. When we get to hypersonic technology, when you’re going Mach five or more, you’re talking about getting anywhere in the world within four hours, anywhere on the planet. Vombine that with something like urban air mobility and you really reduce the friction of getting around the world and being able to do business on any part, anywhere on the planet and be home the same day. It’s a tremendous opportunity to do better. The other thing that is really interesting to me about it is that it’s a highly regulated sector. It’s a place where the actually are levers to pull and for policy analysts or someone that is interested in sort of hacking the regulatory system, it’s a target rich environment. So that’s why I think it’s a fun place for it.

Sarah Oh: I’m curious to hear your views about that intersection between regulators in DC and technology like software and AI and aviation. So Boeing Max had a software problem and it makes a lot of people nervous that they didn’t test a software or didn’t train the pilots enough. What’s your view on that intersection between, East coast/West coast, DC/California. It affects aviation innovation as well. What’s the right balance to strike between seeing innovation in software, self driving vehicles and safety?

Eli Dourado: Yeah, it’s an interesting dichotomy because in software, you want to move fast and break things. But in aviation, if that were the motto, like no one would fly. Even today, it’s the safest form of travel. Even counting the Max accidents and so on. Globally, it’s the safest form of travel that you can do, but people are afraid. And so to keep the market going, we have to demand a high level of safety. I do think it’s useful at least for regulators to sort of have those demands. The Max is in part a software bug, but it’s also kind of an oversight, just even on the hardware. They essentially gave one sensor on the airplane full authority to fly the plane, and that’s a no-no in aviation. And everybody knows that if you pointed that out to anybody beforehand, they would have said, oh we don’t want to do that. If we’re giving something full authority to fly the plane, it should be at least an average of three sensors, or something like that, triple redundant sensing capabilities. I think mistakes do get made. There is a lot of innovation that can happen, including by bringing in software and AI into aviation. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever gonna move as fast as the social media world or something like that, where it doesn’t really matter if you break something. In my estimation, I worked with regulators a lot at FAA and so on, and yes, they’re cautious but they want to do the right thing. I found at least on the supersonic issues that we were working on we got a fair amount of support from the folks at FAA.

Brent Skorup: You guys saw this, you’re at the Tech Policy Institute. I mean technology used to mean, not that long ago, information technology and then media. But now it’s healthcare, it’s autonomous vehicles, it’s aviation. It’s moving into all these other sectors. Most of these are very highly regulated. Marc Andreessen said, software eats the world, and you’re starting to see that clash of this fast moving tech sector into now these very slow moving regulated areas. And there is friction there as you would expect. But I found when you do speak to regulators or lawmakers at the federal or state level, they’re actually fairly accommodating and open-minded about a lot of this for various reasons. Autonomous vehicles for instance, the case has been made and I think people accept, it will make cars, one day, much safer than human drivers and human drivers kill tens of thousands of people a year. And that’s one example of why there’s open-mindedness. Aviation is a little different. You have very safe industry, don’t want to rock the boat, but you’re still, you do find regulators wanting to improve human lives and let commutes be faster and cleaner and let people live where they want. And part of it is international competition. China has made, for instance, autonomous aviation one of the major pillars that they want to lead the world in, similar to AI and 5G, it’s one of those major pillars. That’s definitely part of it. It should be said, this White House, Michael Kratsios, CTO of the United States, wants to see drones for instance, wants to see the US be a leader in drones. They have their IPP project, which is public-private partnerships around the country, finding applications and ways of getting drone services out to the public. So there will be frictions butt I do find there is a lot of openness from regulators and it will be a long process, especially in aviation for that be fully adopted. Oh really?

Tom Lenard: Since you mentioned drones, maybe we should get back to what we started with which was the issue of how to allocate rights in airspace. All of these different types of vehicles require different things. Traditionally, we have this thing, I don’t remember what it is, you only have rights to your property up to a certain height. What height is that?

Brent Skorup: My next paper is on subject. The Supreme Court says you own the immediate reaches above your property. So you don’t know what that is. Yeah.

Tom Lenard: It’s not a precise number. So United Airlines doesn’t have to buy rights from everybody that they fly over, but certainly for drones and for these other vehicles that you were talking about, that might not be an acceptable solution. So how do you see that going?

Brent Skorup: I wrote the Auction Airspace paper and there are some other similar ideas out there. I know some RAND researchers proposed, a couple of years ago, kind of real time airspace markets for drones. I’m skeptical of the real time markets, but I do think multi-year corridors would probably work better. But there’s a lot of tricky issues. Especially with drone airspace. Below 200 feet, I mean that’s tentatively where a lot of people are drawing the line. Below 200 feet, there are tricky property rights issues about, do homeowners own it? In the paper I’m writing about this, it’s interesting, several States have expressly vested property rights in airspace to homeowners on the ground, including the rights of way access for public roads claimed by localities, municipalities. Above 200 feet, and kind of that EVTL airspace you might want to call it where there could be shuttles one day, that’s an open question. The law is not very clear; the federal government has claimed sovereignty over that airspace, but they don’t really claim ownership of it. But it’s similar to spectrum and you could imagine licenses to particular corridors. You’re already seeing this. Actually, last week I saw an aviation consulting company is selling mapping of what they expect will be high value corridors for urban air mobility. And so you already see companies doing this de facto, and that’s what I’m concerned about is that companies and vendors will start route squatting. They’ll start squatting on the high traffic routes. It might be with helicopters, it might be with drones, it might be with EVTL pilot projects. But you don’t want to get to the day, say in five years, where you’re trying to figure out how to decongest this airspace and you’ve given away this is valuable public asset to the first members. And there’s no reason to expect first movers will be the best companies.

Eli Dourado: This is something I don’t understand in the point you made before about squatting on routes. It’s very rare that anybody like keeps up a helicopter or something flying for 24 hours a day. How do you envision this squatting happening? Someone’s literally taking up all of the airspace within a corridor over an extended of time?

Brent Skorup: Much like spectrum spectrum is not used all the time-

Eli Dourado: But this isn’t like spectrum. If I am also operating an airplane in the same airspace, there are conditions under which that other person has to give way to me. So I don’t think it’s even possible to squat on airspace. I don’t see how that is a meaningful possibility.

Tom Lenard: Who decides what the corridors are? I mean, now you can’t fly- there are defined corridors that the FAA defines.

Brent Skorup: There are corridors for a commercial aviation today at high altitudes. Yeah. 

Eli Dourado: Well, there’s class A airspace. 

Brent Skorup: There are corridors. Nine nautical miles, I believe, wide and a thousand feet-

Eli Dourado: There’s a separation minimum that air traffic control applies to any airplane.

Brent Skorup: Yeah, and there’s those corridors. There’s something called Victor routes, airways that are fixed corridors that traditional aviation uses. There are helicopter corridors throughout major cities. These are fixed corridors at set levels. You see this in Europe, you see this flying over the Atlantic. There are fixed corridors. If you take these companies seriously, that they will be flying possibly hundreds of flights a day in urban areas- this is what I foresee happening. Once the technology is there, they will be flying regular routes from, say, downtown DC out to Dulles. And then say, a new company comes in and says, we have a better air traffic management system, we have faster airplanes or Faster EVTL, you can imagine the resistance to any incumbent companies to a new company coming in. The FAA would have to adjudicate that and make technology choices based on some criteria that they come up with.

Eli Dourado: But wouldn’t the FAA just say, okay, everybody’s going to adopt by certain rules of the road. So, if you’re a new person that comes in and wants to operate, you’re allowed to do that and the other person has to, yield to you in certain situations and you have to yield to the other person in certain situations. Just in the same way we don’t see people squatting on car routes. We see people operating on roads and if a new company wants to come in and operate cars on the road, the other people have to let them do that.

Brent Skorup: Where you do see squatting and hoarding are airports slots. 

Eli Dourado: That I agree with, yes.

Brent Skorup: The only reason you don’t see route squatting is because airlines are required to share the air terminals. And so they also share the airspace. But you do see slot hoarding and squatting, it’s a major problem. And I expect you’ll see the very similar principle when-

Eli Dourado: Then the right thing to do is to price or somehow otherwise internalized the externality of the slots. I would support something like auctions or better taxes or something like that for airports slots, for airport gate assignments, and so on. And then, if necessary for the VERTA ports that are going to be used for urban air mobility, then impose a tax or something like that to deal with congestion issues.

Brent Skorup: That’s the debate, well, will VERTA ports be proprietary, a single company, or will they look more like traditional commercial aviation today where they’re shared amongst the carriers. And with that, and this raises, another issue and focus of my paper, when you have shared facilities, you need a unified, possibly a sole air traffic management system. One benefit of exclusive corridors is that you can have multiple what they call UTMs, (unmanned traffic management systems). You don’t need a sole one. Frankly, I think this will be the biggest obstacle to EVTL, will be figuring out this technology, getting all the parties to agree on an unmanned traffic management system.

Eli Dourado: So this is another area in your paper where I think, I don’t quite agree with the way you characterize UTM. You say UTM is a centralized regulator of airspace. It’s actually, what it is, it’s a system where they use sort of federated airspace service providers that exchange data according to certain protocols, kind of like the internet. It enables them to deconflict air traffic. And then of course as a backstop, FAA still there, they can still issue temporary flight restrictions, they can say this is a no go zone and so on, and everybody has to abide by that. But for the most part the operators don’t talk to FAA anymore, they talk to their airspace service provider of choice. To me, that’s not regulation as usual in sort of the way you characterize it in your paper. I think it’s a highly innovative system where we actually are getting FAA out of the day to day operation of air traffic management. I think that there is an ambition within the industry and a hope within the industry that once we get UTM right, we’ll actually be able to extend the ceiling on it all the way up to class A. We’ve been trying to get rid of the sort of FAA day to day operational monopoly on class A air traffic management for years, We’ve had this big battle in FAA reauthorization last time around on should we privatize it or spin it off to another private body? Well actually making it a federated system is way better than just spinning it off privately cause then you have competition in the airspace service provision and as long as people abide by the sort of the data exchange protocols, then people are free to innovate. 

Brent Skorup: There is a certain element of federation to it. With any huge system like that you’re going to see some delegated to others. The problem, and I don’t see many defenders of the air traffic management system we have, it’s extremely hard to update. If you look the next gen updates, which have been ongoing at some levels since 1983, there are tens of thousands of FAA employees working on updating this right now. And that’s because it’s a unitary system. Yes, there are federated elements to it, but everyone inputs flight plans too to a single system.

Eli Dourado: No, but next gen is not UTM. Those are very different things.

Brent Skorup: Right. NextGen is part of the ATM system. It’s updating it to make it more efficient. And you can see it’s decades, years behind. 

Eli Dourado: And it’s not really federated. 

Brent Skorup: It’s years behind budget. 

Eli Dourado:  It’s way behind budget. It doesn’t work. It causes all kinds of complaints. 

Brent Skorup:  With information rich systems like this, it gets extremely hard to update because that very system, that’s where it comes back to bite is because you create all these veto points because you have holdouts who don’t get on board with the updates. That’s what you’re seeing with Next Gen. Trying to get all these general aviation, commercial aviation, to update their satellite based systems. I haven’t persuaded you, but there is an element, and I talk about this a little in the paper, there is a federal element. The problem with that is you create veto points when you try to update that system. And that’s a big problem with the updates.

Eli Dourado: Let’s think about this like the internet. The internet is a bunch of independent networks that talk together with a shared set of protocols. But you still see innovation on the individual networks. There’s nothing blocking individual networks from updating their technology. It’s just, you might get, worst case scenario, maybe you could argue that some of the exchange protocols are not updated fast enough. But in terms of like the individual network management, you see tons of it.

Brent Skorup: I think it’s a little different if, if something goes wrong in the unit, you drop packets. In airspace, you don’t want to drop packets.

Eli Dourado: Absolutely. Much more safety critical. I agree, that’s a difference.

Sarah Oh: I’m learning new things here. I’m not an aviation expert or a traffic management expert. 

Eli Dourado: We’ve been around this. 

Sarah Oh: But I do see a theme of technology, software, interacting with the physical world and older industries here. 

Eli Dourado: There’s a lot going on. The FAA is pretty forward thinking about it. 

Brent Skorup: Virginia Tech has a drone program that the FAA has authorized and so on. So they’ve actually done a few deliveries with drones. 

Tom Lenard: They’re not quiet, right? They make some noise?

Eli Dourado: They make some noise. Being electric helps, being small helps, having multiple, more than just like a couple of rotors helps. If you’re spreading the lifting power over like eight rotors or something like that versus the helicopters one main rotor that helps a lot. It remains to be seen because noise sensitivity is the big issue in aviation for a lot of this stuff. That’s what I spent 90% of my time working on with supersonics, not even the sonic boom, the landing and takeoff noise near airports. You get all kinds of NIMBY issues and then this is the reason I want to keep this local government is out of low altitude airspace. You’re just going to get NIMBY issues like crazy. if you think housing is bad, wait until you have local governments in charge of drones. Unfortunately, I think legally, the federal government has preempted. All of the state and locale rulemakings about, we own the airspace and we regulate it, almost all of that is going to be null and void if ever challenged because federal government is that if you dig a hole like one inch above that, that’s federal airspace.

Brent Skorup: Well yeah, that’s their view. 

Eli Dourado: That’s their view. And it’s actually good because it means that you won’t get the NIMBY issues. Or NIMBY won’t be able to do anything.

Tom Lenard: So if I’m sitting in my backyard after work enjoying a drink, I’m going to have all these drones?

Eli Dourado: But if the sky is actually black with drones, I think that’s a win. The sky is actually super empty. Look outside. Look how empty it is. The sky is so, so big. It’s so big. Like, and the amazing thing is even if you’re in a commercial airliner today, if you look out the window, you don’t see any other airplanes. They are not close by. The sky is so big that I think it’s incredibly underutilized as a resource. I don’t think we’re at to the point yet where that’s really going to be no problem. 

Sarah Oh: I’ve heard some news stories though of drones peeking in to apartment buildings. Is that real? That’s illegal use.

Eli Dourado: That is illegal under the same local peeping Tom rules. It’s not about the drone, it’s about the activity that you’re doing, if it’s legal. 

Sarah Oh: So the drone could legally drop you off a taco, but not take photos. 

Eli Dourado: Sure, yeah.

Sarah Oh: Is that the way regulations are going to go?

Eli Dourado: I mean that won’t be, like the actual tacos won’t be specified in the regulation. 

Sarah Oh: Oh so it’s the use.

Eli Dourado: It’s illegal to like look through someone’s curtains if they don’t want you to, no matter how you do it, whether you do it using a drone to do it or not. if they don’t want you to look in like look, you know-

Sarah Oh: Isn’t it public?

Eli Dourado: I don’t know the actual standard there.

Sarah Oh: And the Fourth Amendment. If the cops have a drone then it’s all public view if the drone goes up high enough and your window is open. You have a reasonable expectation that a drone could see you.

Tom Lenard: Obviously, if you walk along the street and somebody’s house is close enough to the street and their window is open-

Eli Dourado: You can see inside.

Sarah Oh: Right. Fourth amendment law is a reasonable expectation of privacy. If you think the policy can see you-

Eli Dourado: Right, so the drone doesn’t actually introduce anything novel there, I guess is the point. If you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Sarah Oh: I guess now it’s normal for you to expect a drone to be able to look through your window. 

Brent Skorup: This was always Scalia’s criticism of expectation of privacy. Basically if they’re going to do it, you no longer have an expectation. He was right. There was a helicopter case like 20 years ago and they were hovering 400 feet. I think they identified some marijuana plants or something. Supreme Court said, sorry, you have no expectation of privacy for backyard from people flying.

Sarah Oh: I guess there are telescopic lenses or binoculars, which is the same.

Brent Skorup: I think Supreme Court [inaudible], like they do with the cell phone case. 

Sarah Oh: Well I mean cameras on the street corner. 

Eli Dourado: Yeah, it’s all public space.

Sarah Oh: The surveillance world we’re in now, it’s public space. 

Brent Skorup: That’s the other thing, people just acclimate to what’s given. It’s kind of hard to say it’s unconstitutional. Most people don’t care. 

Sarah Oh: That’s kind of different. I mean, and then it goes to the facial recognition. So all of that is okay under that line of reasoning. 

Brent Skorup: Yeah, license plate readers basically follow you everywhere. 

Tom Lenard: Interesting stuff.

Eli Dourado: Drones are going to be great. We’re not going to get them in DC for a long time, but because of the airspace restrictions around the White House and stuff like that. You won’t get your tacos delivered by drone here, but everywhere else in the country is going to get them. 

Sarah Oh: Where does the line end? Is it DC proper?

Eli Dourado: 30 miles from the White House. I think there’s one airspace that’s 30 miles and there’s one airspace that’s 15. And then there’s five miles around Reagan, five miles around Dulles, lots of other restrictions like that.

Tom Lenard: Well I don’t know that I want drones coming.

Sarah Oh: Delivering my coffee.

Tom Lenard:  I get my deliveries from Amazon quick enough as it is.

Eli Dourado:  Oh, but they’re going to bring it to you in 30 minutes.

Sarah Oh: UberEats.

Eli Dourado: Order from Amazon and you’ll get your stuff in 30 minutes.

Tom Lenard: That’s pretty good. From Whole Foods, just a couple hours. I went to Whole Foods yesterday and half the employees were packing up bags to deliver.

Sarah Oh:  So it’s not actual people grocery shopping! Thank you.

Eli and Brent: Thanks for having us.

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