Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is planning a large deployment of delivery drones – bringing Project Wing to the public by launching Wing Marketplace, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Wing Marketplace would deliver food directly to consumers for a $6 fee, say former Google employees. Domino’s Pizza and Whole Foods grocery have both been approached as partners in the marketplace.
While the project apparently has the full support of Google, the report says that the details are still in the development stage. Apparently the drones are easily crashed, and researchers have not yet determined how the delivery should actually be completed. The last step of drone delivery – how to actually get the package in the hands of consumers – has long been a subject of discussion. Landing a drone and launching it again from a residential area is a complex problem. Solutions vary among companies: Amazon has filed a patent for delivery boxes to be left outside of homes; medical delivery provider Zipline drops packages of blood and other supplies to remote areas by parachute, not landing the drone at all.
In September, Project Wing began delivering Chipotle burritos at Virginia Tech as part of an FAA-sanctioned test of the project. In that test scenario, the drones are launched from a Chipotle food truck, and the burritos are lowered to the consumer by means of a winch.
The report comes as both Amazon and Google seem to be well along in drone delivery projects. Amazon’s “secret” drone delivery test site in the U.K. has been outed by reporters, who say that delivery drones are frequently seen flying over fields in the area. The two companies are racing to get the drone delivery technology fully developed as regulations evolve to support its implementation. Current restrictions against flight over people and flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) create significant barriers for a full implementation of a drone delivery service.