Last year, Google tiptoed into the drone space with the launch of Project Wing. Prior to the announcement, a special team at Google X (led by Nick Roy from MIT) was actually working on the program for more than two years. This was one of the first clips that surfaced of Project Wing:
The tech giant claims that its army of UAVs is strictly for emergency relief missions. During the test, chocolate bars, dog treats and cattle vaccines were sent out to isolated farmers in Queensland, Australia. The package isn’t your typical relief goods mission trip. Instead, it sounds like random items from a giant e-commerce site that is also testing its own drone creations.
But unlike Amazon’s drones, the early prototypes look oddly similar to Sony’s commercial fliers, taking on a traditional airplane body. New reports, however, suggest that Google is moving away from the old design. A shot of an aerial unit dropping off a mysterious pouch (possibly just a sandbag) recently surfaced on Twitter, and it looks nothing like the company’s previous models.
— Aaref Hilaly (@aaref) October 19, 2015
Learning to Fly
Despite flying under optimal conditions, the UAV appears to be fidgeting in the air. It could be that the drone was having issues with the transition after dropping the payload, or the pilot navigating the machine was nervous (too much coffee before a flight has been known to make experts wildly anxious about their inventions). Aaref Hilaly, a partner at Sequoia Capital, a leading venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California, was responsible for the release of the clip on social media.
“Google has tested a drone and is aiming to fly it for five miles in five minutes. This will be Google’s second drone attempt after the reported failure of its original design in March. The company is looking to compete with Amazon, which too is developing a drone that can deliver packages,” wrote Jigmey Bhutia from International Business Times.
What’s Next for Project Wing?
The path Google is taking with Project Wing is filled with obstacles, diversions and U-turns. Many are comparing the endeavor with Jeff Bezos’ fleet of extraordinary fliers. With Google’s new drone design, it’s hard not to. To silence the rumors, the global brand uses humanitarian causes to make the development of the machines worth pursuing under everyone’s noses. But eventually, the company will have to unveil what it really plans to do with a hangar full of drones. The tech community certainly thinks they will be used for commercial deliveries.
With Google’s history of going big, chances are the group could also be looking into a wide range of sectors, such as farming, disaster relief, surveying and film-making. The company’s current projects, namely Google Express and Jump, may benefit from drone assistance to boost their services in the various spaces.
Explains Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of Consumer Electronics association, “Safe, responsible drone use will transform the way we do business — allowing these devices to assist in search and rescue and disaster relief missions, improve crop production and efficiency, and create safer work environments for infrastructure maintenance.”