Late last week, the greatest wish of every Chipotle-guzzling fiend at Virginia Tech was granted when the fast food chain, Project Wing (a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc.), and our very own university announced a pilot project to start test delivering burritos via drones to campus.

Alphabet and Chipotle joined forces with Virginia Tech because while it is one of the few drone testing sites approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, the university also boasts a “very aggressive program for next generation transportation and infrastructure,” Alan Levin reported for Bloomberg News

School President Timothy Sands also commented on the project, saying it was part of Virginia Tech’s efforts to become a leader in new transportation technology. Dave Vos, a Project Wing executive, said the partnership is “the first time that we’re actually out there delivering stuff to people who want that stuff.” 

While this project—the services of which are only available to a certain group of Virginia Tech employees and students—will only last a couple of weeks, the headlines forecast a not-so-distant future where it will literally rain burritos.

One thing is indeed inarguable: this project is the first of its kind. A food-delivery drone’s groundbreaking (or should I say ground-hovering?) technology could—and likely will—jumpstart the next drastic shift in consumerism. And yes, it's great that Virginia Tech gets to play a crucial role in making the vision of food lowering into your lap Hunger Games-style a tasty and convenient reality. 

But really, burritos? Delivered to a campus that is already the Beyoncé of college food? While most anxious customers ask if guac will still be extra if it falls from the sky, I question if there even exists a need to have it fall from the sky in the first place.

Because God forbid we continue the painstaking routine of walking to Chipotle and actually talking to an employee to retrieve our sacred Mexican fast food.

Sarcasm aside, I wonder why the focus of drone technology is being placed on the wants of consumers when 1 in 8 Virginians and 1 in 6 Americans go hungry every year. Drone-delivered food is all fine, dandy, and cool to watch, but its services should be geared towards the needs of hungry people, whose hopeful vision of the future is having the means to give their children fresh produce or clean water.

The people that should be receiving hot burritos are these same hopeful visionaries that probably don’t give a shit whether or not a flying robot delivered the very commodities we take for granted. The drones are being used for the sake of convenience when we could be using them for the sake of solving hunger.

My issue is not a question of morality, but rather a question of prioritization: why allow the services of drones to be first swept into the cycle of capitalist consumerism before they could help to reduce hunger rates? Should we not use the game-changing technology of drones to first address the basic needs of the earth’s people before privileged folk relish in its awesomeness? Why does the private sector have access to drones first, while the public waits their turn? 

I’m not trying to undermine or discredit the work of our engineers who have clearly made incredible strides in transportation advancement. But our partnership with Chipotle seems to me like a missed opportunity to use our technological expertise in drone machinery to help those in need. I’d much prefer to see my school utilize its world-renowned reputation as “inventors of the future” to fix the social problems at hand—problems that have plagued not only the world, but our very neighbors in the New River Valley for far too long. 

I’d like to see us employ our motto “Ut prosim” (Latin for “that I may serve”) to invent a future where our scientific pioneering serves the underserved first, and the fortunate consumers second.

The potential of drone technology is clear, and perhaps one day drone technology will come around to using its powers for good and not for profit. On that day, I will eat the words I write today, along with a well-justified Chipotle burrito from the clouds.