Updated: May 20
Image Credit: X DEVELOPMENT LLC.
Military, film, construction, and agriculture are only some of the many industries that use drones to perform tasks in a more timely and cost-effective manner. As drone technology advances, their usage expands, which has been especially evident in the realm of delivery services. In 2012, Alphabet, Google's parent company, started Project Wing to explore ways to develop a self-flying drone that could safely and quickly transport goods. Currently, Wing is an autonomous delivery drone service that aims to increase access to goods, reduce traffic congestion, and lessen CO2 emissions attributed to transportation.
When designing Wing, Alphabet’s focus was to create a self-flying delivery drone. They hoped to accomplish this by concentrating on 3 things: fuel efficiency, precision, and safety. Wing has an energy-efficient design that allows it to fly at speeds of up to 75 mph and an all-electric powered system that can fly up to 400 feet above the ground. Also, It can deliver packages to locations the size of a doorstep and safely navigate around various obstacles such as other drones, trees, buildings, and power lines.
Video Credit: X, the moonshot factory
For the past 7 years, Wing has conducted thousands of test flights in Australia, Finland, and the US. The project’s first real-world delivery took place in Queensland, Australia, where the team was able to transport a first-aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to farmers. One of the most successful flights conducted in the United States was in September 2016 where Wing delivered burritos to students at Virginia Tech. According to the company, food is a great way to test drone delivery technology due to its fragility and temperate sensitive nature.
By combining Wing with OpenSky technology, the company presents a service that allows consumers and businesses to fly with more confidence. The platform provides a detailed map of the world and tells users where and how to fly, which grants safe access to other drone pilots. Project Wing is currently available in Helsinki, Finland and Canberra, Australia, and Alphabet is working on bringing the service to Virginia.
On April 23, 2019, Wing became the first drone delivery company to receive the Air Carrier Certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This allows the company to deliver goods from local businesses to residents of the United States. Once it's available in a community, residents have access to this service via the Wing app. The application allows consumers to search for specific businesses or items. When the order is placed, the item is sent out, and the project’s software finds the best route. The app also lets its users track the package and notifies them when it has arrived.
Image Credit: Wing Aviation LLC.
Wing has proven to be beneficial to consumers, businesses, and communities. It is a faster, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly way of delivering goods. It provides consumers with access goods that were previously out of reach and a quicker solution to previous transportation problems. Business owners are now able to serve current customers quickly while reaching new ones more affordably.
As for communities, Wing not only encourages the flow of income and expenditures, but it also reduces carbon emissions associated with the transportation of goods. By collaborating closely with communities and governments, Wing can ensure that they are successfully abiding by their requirements and regulations while also providing a service that is beneficial to all.
Blanca Tavera is a University of Georgia grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Communication Studies. She’s an intern at Women Who Drone and is relatively new to the drone industry. Her main goal as an intern is to gain a holistic understanding of the industry and experience as a writer in order to provide beneficial and entertaining articles to the readers.