Google[x]’s Project Wing


Autonomous delivery is the way of the future. Soon, flocks of flying hover crafts will glide through the air like acrobatic birds of flight bringing home items to those who need them. Whether those objects be food, or electronics, or clothes, pretty much anything under the weight limit of these devices can be sent to people anywhere nearby.

Now, Google has stepped into the ring saying that they are interested in delivering products to individuals in the next few years through an innovation they are calling Project Wing. It aspires to reduce the friction of moving things around. Google released a video introducing the idea which shows a man calling up a service asking for some food for his dog. Instantly, a small delivery vehicle took off from the ground and flew to the intended destination dropping off a package containing delicious doggy treats.

Google clearly states in the video that this type of system is still years away from a readily available consumer product, but it is the first prototype that the company wants to stand behind. Google has marketed the design pretty well so far, and the musical use of [Norman Greenbaum]’s classic 1969 rock song ‘Spirit in the Sky’ was an obvious, yet totally awesome addition to the video. We are curious how services similar to this will affect postal delivery jobs in the future, and also what the legal ramifications will be, but all that information will surely be discussed very soon. In the meantime though, Google has released an interest form that will take the names and emails of those who would like to partner with them in an effort to bring autonomous product delivery to the world.

52 thoughts on “Google[x]’s Project Wing

  1. Nice concept, pity about the Google bit. I reckon that in the terms and conditions for use, buried away in very small letters, you have to sign over the deeds of your house to them before they agree to deliver.

      1. Then three weeks later a whole compliment of pre-cut wallpaper arrives. It’s a stylish white self-stripe, but with company names underlined in blue trailing the whole length of each wall.

  2. Remember, people aren’t people, corporations are people. So all the laws that protect people don’t apply to you, they apply to the real people (i.e. corporations). So forget about taking a shotgun to any drone that flies over your property.

  3. “Pull!” My 2 cents is to coin the term dronejacking.

    One or two drones in the sky is one thing, rush-hour would need tech comprable if not exceeding self-driving cars. Imagine self-driving trucks that would stop and trust you to take only your package.

    1. Or instead.. Imagine a truck with a mechanism for extracting your package from all the others, and placing it in an externally opening receptacle, which only opens for you once a suitable ID has been presented.

      So your latest purchase from Big’n’Tall arrives, and you need to enter the 6 digit code that appears on the receipt they emailed you, to get your package. Otherwise, back to the depot it goes to get redelivered tomorrow.

  4. I think the real news here is that this has the potential to be significantly more efficient than multi-rotors, at least in terms of distance covered per input energy while also being faster. Granted, this isn’t the first time such an aircraft has been created.

    1. Agreed!

      Lowering the package to the ground via a winch, instead of the whole aircraft having to go to ground level, is also clever. It reduces navigation requirements and chance of collision/entanglement. Presumably the line and grapple is designed to be cheap and replaceable, and can be sacrificially released if necessary; which is certainly better than the whole craft being disabled. Plus the craft can stay high enough at all times that noise is a non-issue.

  5. “It aspires to reduce the fiction of moving things around.”

    I was interested in that sentence in the sense of was it a typo? or a play on words? Alas it seems as though it was a typo – but I still like it as a play on words, for instance:

    “It aspires to reduce the fiction of moving things around (by drones).”

      1. No, it was a direct quote from the video (which said “friction”) which is why I assume it was a typo – I still think it would make a good tagline if they ever start selling them (or service).

        (actually on review I think we have our wires crossed – I see you were probably referring to the line in the video whereas I was referring to the line in the HaD article).

    1. We used to call that “Australia Post” actually. Used to be service three times a week but I think they are reducing that to one or two depending just how remote you are,

  6. Forget practical just the noise alone will mean this will never happen but it would be nice if google put its weight behind the fight against the FAA who recently make it illegal to get paid for anything having to do with flying a drone without having a license. That includes uploading a video of yourself flying a drone and getting paid by the adds that display on your page.

  7. You’ve got to admire Google, bussing people around the world to play with toys. Who knows, there may be commercial results.
    In the meantime the postal service round here works pretty well, and there’s a wide variety of shops are not far away – and it’s quiet here.
    On a practical point, sheep and cattle stations in the Australial outback can be separated by many hundreds of miles, that’s why they have Flying Doctors, and that’s why they accept the costs of an airplane based service – but for dogfood?

  8. What a bad idea IMO. We have had a near miss with a drone and a passenger jet where I live and now Amazon and Google want to join the fray? All so lets find the most energy intensive way to deliver goods shall we. Fly? why stop there, we could eliminate the whole warehousing step by globally delivering goods to your home from the factory by rocket. But you want to be “Environment friendly” so the rocket will have to carry enough fuel to reenter orbit and return to the factory. Forget that we already have the means to ship from the factory to your front door, it’s just not fast as the Google plane. That’s the result of the me generation, me me me.

    1. Actually, Id like an energy comparison done. Flying means you can take nearly a straight line, plus your carrying a lot less mass. I wouldn’t rule out the fact that might compansate for the flight.
      I suspect it might be something along the lines of “not as good as a full truck delivering lots in your straight” but “better then a nearly empty truck going about town”.

      Also, these drones will be much much lower then any passenger aircraft. As long as they dont go near a runway, that wont be a problem.

  9. Although the cable deployment idea is interesting, I have to ask how they deal with power lines? Deploying the package on a power line or having it blown into power lines would not be good… unless you would like to “cook” the doggy treats.

    1. Make the cable out of an insulator instead of a conductor. Like nylon fishing line…. Then they could employ a sensor so that if a pull were exerted on the line that exceeded the lift of the aircraft, the line could be easily cut or melted like a fuse with a tiny nichrome wire.

  10. Nobody has mentioned noise. Living by an airport sucks. With large-scale deployment of delivery drones, everywhere will be an airport all the time. Say goodbye to any hope of uninterrupted peace and quiet ever again.

  11. Things like this should first find life as delivery methods to large scale disaster zones. Part of the problem with disaster recovery is getting the right things to the right locations. Deploy these with emergency radios to points of congregation then use those to direct the right resources to the right places.

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