Google, or to be specific, Google X, really loves stretching the boundaries of technology, and maybe the law as well. Seemingly taking after Amazon’s own drone-powered delivery plans, Google X has revealed it has its own “Project Wing” delivery system already in the works, with a slight twist.
To be fair, Wing isn’t really an imitation of Amazon’s drone dreams. Project Wing was said to have been in development for already two years now. And it wasn’t initially conceptualized to deliver packages. It was first intended for emergency situations, delivering defibrillators to heart attack victims, where speed of deployment is of the essence. Unfortunately, the red tape involved in integrating it with a 911 system and other considerations negated whatever speed benefits Project Wing had to offer. And since Google has already started its own same-day express delivery service, why not reuse Wing for something less life critical and more sensational?
Project Wing neatly ties into Google’s latest obsession: automation and robots. Unlike most commercial drones in the market, though, Project Wing is quite unique, part plane, part helicopter. Like a helicopter, it takes of vertically, almost like a rocket with its nose pointed up. Then it rotates on its pitch to a conventional lateral position as it flies to its destination. You might imagine it would then fly down to your door (and maybe even ring your doorbell) to deliver the package, but not so. It remains hovering in the air and will instead lower the package to the ground with a cable.
The public reveal of Project Wing was prompted by growing rumors and leaks, but Google hasn’t said yet if it’s ready to be delivered. Even if it technically ready, it still has to pass one of the hardest and most painstaking hurdle of all: getting it legally certified. At the moment, Google X is conducting its Project Wing tests in Australia, where drones aren’t yet the subject of government scrutiny the way it has lately been in the US.