Google to Test Project Wing Drone Delivery Service in the U.S.
Google parent company Alphabet's drone-based delivery service is soaring along, with the federal government's blessing.
As part of an effort to promote and research unmanned aircraft systems across the US, the White House on Tuesday announced that Project Wing, the brainchild of Alphabet's experimental Google X division, will take flight at a Federal Aviation Administration unmanned aircraft system test site.
The test will give the Project Wing team "full operational experience of its delivery service in a safe testing environment," the White House said. "Data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators answer critical safety and human factors questions for UAV cargo delivery operations."
The Project Wing team is planning to test the system with cargo, and build towards "beyond line of sight" capabilities.
"The work, which will focus on encouraging good citizenship in operation and collaboration between and across industry and government, will help ensure safe integration of [small drones] in the layer of airspace under 400 feet," the White House said.
Unveiled in 2014, Project Wing is Alphabet's answer to drone-delivery services from rivals like Amazon and Walmart. Last year, division leader David Vos said he wants delivery drones in the air by 2017.
Meanwhile, as part of its announcement this week, the White House also said the National Science Foundation has allocated $35 million in research funding over the next five years to "accelerate the understanding of how to intelligently and effectively design, control, and apply [drones] to beneficial applications" such as inspecting physical infrastructure, monitoring crops, responding to disasters and studying storms.