Late last year, Amazon announced the development of its drone in order to deliver goods directly to consumers. Last Thursday, Google X, the research arm of Google, announced its current work to develop a similar drone system. The project, called Project Wing, has already been in the making for a couple years and has conducted a successful research trip in Australia. During the trip, the company delivered packages to farmers in Queensland using a 5 foot single-wing drone with four propellers and a structure that allowed packages to fit into a gap in the middle of the wing.
A major challenge to the design of the drone so far has been the methods of delivering the package from the drone to the individual. Of the methods considered, two of which include dropping the good via parachute and landing the drone. However, developers feared that by landing the drone people may venture to close to the drone and risk hurting themselves. In the end, goods were lowered to the Australian farmers using a fishing line.
While the use of drones for commercial purposes is still banned, in June the Federal Aviation Administration approved the commercial drone flight over land by BP. In a release accompanying the announcement, Google notes self-flying vehicles have the potential to increase the efficiency of moving goods.
Throughout history, major shifts in how we move goods from place to place have led to new opportunities for economic growth and generally made consumers’ lives easier. From steam ships to the railroads, from the postal service to delivery services like FedEx and DHL, speed has reshaped society not only with greater convenience but also by making more goods accessible to more people.”
Google seems to believe drones are the next natural innovation in this market. In the statement, the company cited ways in which drones are currently being used, including the delivery of medical supplies to remote clinics as well as surveillance by the World Wildlife Fund for poachers.
Concerns surrounding the use of drones remain high, but Google and Amazon continue to develop the technology and lobby for lower regulations from the FAA. Because many of these concerns focus on safety and privacy, as well as ability to control the technology from afar, restrictions are expected to remain high.
Read more here- “Google Reveals Home Delivery Drone Program Project Wing,” (Dominic Rushe, The Guardian)
Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.