It has been a little quiet around Alphabet’s Project Wing, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any progress. Over the last few years, Project Wing has made thousands of test flights and now they are ready to start testing burrito deliveries… again.
The test market is Queanbeyan, South Eastern Australia, where two merchants have signed up for Project Wing. Guzman y Gomez, a Mexican food chain, and Chemist Warehouse, a chain of pharmacies. These companies will receive orders from test consumers, who’ve purchased items using the Project Wing app on their smartphones. Project Wing’s drones will then fly out and make the deliveries.
Burrito’s delivered by drone in Australia?
Project Wing chose the Australian market for several reasons: 1) The drone laws and regulations are well set up and more lax than in many other countries. Even DJI acknowledges that. 2) The typical distances that consumers have to travel to go to the store are quite large so drone deliveries offer a clear time-saving benefit.
“Project Wing is aiming to transform transportation. We want to make it easy, cheaper and more environmentally friendly to receive items, packages, whatever you may need.”
James Ryan Burges, Co-Lead Project Wing
Project Wing’s drone design
The drones used by Project Wing are not your typical DJI quadcopter. It is a specially designed drone with 12 little propellers for vertical lift and two larger ones attached to two small wings for forward propulsion. Without engineering complexity required for an Osprey, Project Wing is able to design a drone this way that combines impressive carrying capabilities with forward flying speed. It can reach speeds of up to 75 mph while carrying a load.
The burritos, or whatever else is being delivered, hang underneath the drone in a somewhat aerodynamic recycled carton box. When the drone arrives at the delivery location, it doesn’t actually land. Instead, it simply lowers the package and releases it. This hoisting system is a smart solution as it minimizes the risk of people interfering with the drone intentionally or unintentionally. It also reduces the noise levels on the ground. The drones are quite a bit larger than the typical consumer drone you are used to seeing by the way.
Train the software
Project Wing’s flight planning, and navigational software pre-plans the ideal route before the drone takes off. When it arrives at the location, GPS and sensors scan the area to find the perfect drop-off location. It is important to make many test flights to train the software to correctly identify obstacles such as trees, fences and backyard playsets. Even more so because most consumers prefer to take delivery in the backyard so that the package is less visible from the street.
Alphabet is not the only company testing out drone deliveries. Recently Amazon has started its own drone delivery test program in England. Obviously, there are a lot of advantages to drone deliveries over regular deliveries, which means that there will be a lot of competition as well.
What are you think about drum deliveries? Do you only see advantages or do you have concerns as well? Please let us know in the comments below.