In what has become a time honored tradition, the pre-Purim article deviates from a thoughtful historical perspective to less thoughtful solutions to contemporary conundrums. This year I would like to tackle the growing problem of Purim jams—not in hamantashen, but on the streets.
A recent traffic study determined that the New York metro area ranked third in congestion, but this must not have taken Purim into account. The sheer volume of cars en route to deliver mishloach manos to (mostly) teachers and rebbeim forces drivers into large bottlenecks, which should always be avoided, even on Purim.
I think the solution to this issue should be the Amazon model—delivering mishloach manos by drone. A ide benefit of this would be to drive down the cost of mishloach manos, because most small drones can only carry a small bag of popcorn and a peanut chew. You’ll just have to skip the grape juice and pineapple this year, or risk your drone dropping its payload prematurely on an unsuspecting pedestrian.
Of course, this raises the halachic issue of whether one can fulfill the mitzvah in this fashion. If you decide to ask your rav, be sure to do so before he gets his popcorn.
Using drones on Purim opens an exciting and endless range of opportunities. Often we are stuck with an unruly bachur or family member who is at the high end of the inebriation spectrum, and he is now a persona non grata in your home. He has no way of getting back home, so what do you do? Call Dial-a-Drone, a service that will remove unwanted persons from your property and deposit them at their point of origin. All you need to do is whip out your phone and tap on this new app. Enter your location, the client’s weight, and his destination, and wait for the pickup. Your guests will be in awe when they see a large drone swoop down and securely snatch the client, and he will certainly behave himself henceforth.
I must confess that this is not an original idea; you may have seen reports that Dubai will have drone taxis up and running in the near future. A promotional video shows an average-size man with a small briefcase getting into an oversize drone and typing his destination into the cockpit keyboard, and he is soon soaring above the traffic.
However, it is not without reservation that I suggest such a service. The reason is that, as with any autonomous vehicle, there is always the threat of hackers commandeering the controls. Nils Rodday, a security researcher at IBM, has demonstrated how flaws in the security of a $30,000 drone used by police allowed him to take full control of the quadcopter with just a laptop and a cheap radio chip. By exploiting a lack of encryption between the drone and its controller module, known as a “telemetry box,” any hacker can impersonate that controller and send navigation commands, blocking all commands from the drone’s legitimate operator. “Everything the original operator can do, you can do as well,” says Rodday.
The good news is that, as we all know, there are only two real hacking threats: Russia and the kid down the block. For our purposes, neither poses a real danger. If, in fact, the Russians hack a Purim drone with your unwanted guest and reroute him to the Kremlin, they will undoubtedly send him right back as soon as he arrives.
If the kid down the block takes over, he will most likely engage in some aerial acrobatics for a while, and our dear passenger may not even realize anything is amiss.
Although the technology for these solutions may still be a long way off, eventually the problem of Purim traffic snarls will be a thing of the past. At last, you will have more time to stay home and enjoy Purim with your well-behaved guests.