Google is one of the most pervasive companies in the world, with its technology stretching far beyond its original search-engine origins. A subsidary of its parent company, Alphabet, has also been looking to expand into the skies for the past few years.
Alphabet's innovation arm, now known as X but previously called Google X, has been developing Project Wing – an initiative that looks to deliver goods on demand, from shopping to medicine supplies and even burritos.
What is Project Wing?
Project Wing is a delivery drone development project that is looking to be the 'next generation' of the technology, says the company’s website.
The first flight took place in Queensland, Australia and the company has run tens of thousands of trial flights since.
It’s not just drones the company is interested in, but also the infrastructure around drone flying. Project Wing has developed an unmanned airspace traffic management platform to allow multiple drones to fly with other air borne gadgets.
In September 2016, this was tested at an FAA-approved test site run by the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership.
Where has Project Wing been tested?
The drones have been tested in Queensland and also in labs at X in Mountain View and in rural airfields in California.
How does Project Wing work?
The drones fly at altitiudes of under 500 feet and the current prototypes have fixed wings like an aeroplane, rotors like a helicopter and a wingspan less than 1.5 metres.
The aircraft avoid bumping into one another by flying on pre-planned routes and using sensors and software to detect other drones.
Project Wing and food deliveries
In October, James Ryan Burgess, co-lead of Project Wing, published a blog post detailing how the company has been making food deliveries in Australia. In the rural location where the drones are tested, residents face a 40 minute round trip for any basic goods they may have forgot on the weekly shop.
Working with a local Mexican restaurant, the team managed to turn the dream of burrito deliveries by drones into a reality.
What is X?
X is described as a 'moonshot factory' on its website. The projects, including Project Wing, are supposed to offer radical solutions using breakthrough technology to big problems.
Other projects include Project Loon which is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space to help internet connections.
X operates as a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. in Silicon Valley.