One of the founders of the project, MIT researcher Nick Roy, told MIT News’ Adam Conner-Simons that he originally viewed part of the drones’ design — how they drop packages — as “a terrible idea.”
Here’s a look at how the drones work:
The Project Wing team calls its drone a “tail-sitter,” meaning that it takes off vertically like a helicopter…
…And then tilts forward to fly more like a traditional plane:
To deliver a package, the drone drops a cable with an “egg” attached. The egg connects to the package:
When the package lands, the egg detaches and leaves the package on the ground:
Although Roy was iffy about the egg concept initially, he says that he realised that it was actually safer and more accurate than using parachutes or landing the drone. (In Amazon’s demo of its own drone project, Amazon Prime Air, the company shows its machines landing to drop each package.)
Although Google’s drone project is still years from actually being used in the wild, Roy says the technology proves there is potential for this type of idea to work.
“This could take a lot of the friction out of the way that we move things around in the world,” Roy told Conner-Simons. “But what’s truly exciting is the recognition that the most compelling application is probably something that people aren’t even thinking about right now.”
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