If you’re living in the Australian outback and have run out of dog food, Google may have the solution. It’s been testing drone deliveries in remote Queensland as part of an until-now top secret scheme codenamed Project Wing.
The company’s been exploring drone delivery as part of its rivalry with Amazon and while it faced civil aviation regulatory opposition in the US, it seems the wide open spaces of Queensland have been more suitable for Google’s ambitions.
The company created prototype drones with a 1.5m wingspan to deliver everything from dog snacks to water, cattle vaccines and first aid kits to Queensland farmers.
In mid-August a team of Google[x] engineers set up on a farm near Warwick – about 160km west of Brisbane – and spent a week making more than 30 test runs.
They enlisted some local help in Phil Swinsburg from Brisbane-based Unmanned Systems Australia. He knows the countryside and got the testing permissions needed.
Google reckons we have the perfect outdoor lab, saying “Australia’s rolling hills, open sky and long standing history of innovation with UAVs provided the perfect opportunity to safely put our prototype vehicles and delivery systems through their paces outside of a controlled lab environment”.
The company has released this video showing the drone in action. People are, understandably, in awe at the machine:
The first flight, on Wednesday, August 13, was one giant leap for chocolate bar delivery. A Cherry Ripe was sent about 1km to a nearby farm. The vehicle arrived, hovered overhead, then gently lowered the package to the ground.
The Google(x) team has returned to California to review the findings of the texts and hopes to develop a delivery system using self-flying vehicles, in the same way Google is currently also working on self-drive cars.
“We’re only just beginning to develop the technology to make a safe delivery system possible, but we think that there’s tremendous potential to transport goods more quickly, safely and efficiently,” Google says.
Google is looking for partners to help them take the project to the next step. If you’re keen, fill out this form.
Now check out some photos of Project Wing in action.