Google, the search engine giant, is working on much more than tweaks to their search engine. Google X, a division of the company dedicated to futuristic ideas, has unveiled what they call “Project Wing.” It aims to do something that is currently also being worked on by Amazon: fast and safe deliveries via drones.
What is Project Wing?
The project was just mentioned at the end of August, and the world is buzzing with speculation. It is an attempt to take delivery services to the air.
Instead of packages arriving through the local mail, they will be mapped out and delivered right to a person’s front door, or that is the goal at least.
The question is, “how will this company use Project Wing?” Since Google is currently not a retailer, it is speculated that the company will likely sell or lease their technology. The goal is to provide fast delivery for smaller items.
Features and Specifications
They actually released a video showing their drone in action. It must be noted that this technology is years away, but the video does show some real promise. There are some things that we do know about the drone’s features.
Google has incorporated a tail-sitter design. This design allows for a unique look and great overall distance potential.
With a tail-sitter, the drone literally lifts directly up into the air and is propelled. Less rotors, with a total of just 4 seen on recent models, are needed to power the drone.
This allows the drone to conserve more energy than its counterparts which will be discussed in the distance section.
Tail-sitter design is essential because it allows the drone to hover with the utmost accuracy. As seen in the video, it will stop at a specified location using GPS coordinates and hover in place to lower the package.
There is a lot of talk about the tail-sitter design. While optimal in terms of flight ease, this design is not seen in any commercial or personal aircraft. This is due to humans not being able to handle the vertigo felt with the design’s quick orientation changes. Thankfully, electronics do not experience this same effect.
Flight Distance and Battery
An electric battery is seen which helps the drone operate. Due to less rotors and a tail-sitter design, it is estimated that Project Wing will be able to deliver packages further than Amazon’s 10 mile hopes.
Currently, Google has not released a range and has only tested the project in a radius of 0.5 miles.
The delivery method utilizes a winch design. Essentially, a package is attached to a winch. When the drone reaches the destination, it will hover in space and release its grip on the winch. This will allow the winch to lower the package at a speed of 10 meters every second.
Using an unspecified detection method, the drone will slow down the package to a mere 2 meters per second when it is closer to the ground.
When the package has touched the ground, the winch will release and automatically retract. There is a question of what will occur if someone decides to grab the winch and pull on the drone.
This project, like all major drone projects, has not been granted clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to test their drones outside of their own property. They have been testing them in Australia.
Currently, Google is working with a neighbor that is close to their office, less than a half a mile away, and delivering packages. As seen in the video, the delivery has gone rather smoothly and testing does show some further indications:
- The range may be immense granted neighbors are very far away in that area of Australia.
- The drone, as stated, is not perfect.
- Google may think about becoming a retailer.
Google, like many others, will find out more about the future of commercial drones in the United States in September of 2015.
Unfortunately, the company has not released the maximum weight it will be able to carry. We suspect that the weight of a package will be around the 5 pound limit seen with Amazon’s Prime Air.