Google X has registered designs for two new delivery drones with the FAA. The drone codenamed M2 was registered on October 2, and a separate drone named B3 was registered October 7. Each weighing less than 55 pounds, both drones are fixed wing aircraft with two electric motors.
The new drones follow Google X’s announcement in March that the “Project Wing” delivery drone concept had failed, but that they would continue to develop new designs. “Project Wing” was a single wing drone that took off and landed vertically, hovering over a target and dropping a package to the ground on a wire before releasing it. The unique design was purported to combine the advantages of a helicopter’s vertical travel and hovering ability with the strengths of an airplane’s wing technology. The drone was tested last summer in Queensland, Australia. While the delivery mechanism worked, the drone proved hard to control, especially in high winds.
Google X is Google’s semi-secret innovation lab, run by scientist entrepreneur Astro Teller and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Teller states that the goal of Google X is to develop “science fiction-sounding solutions” to technology problems. Other projects include the driverless car and Google’s Project Glass, a head mounted “augmented reality” display. Google X’s main offices are located about a half mile from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA.
The registration of the two new drones may indicate that Google is making a shift towards working within the FAA’s regulatory guidelines for commercial operators. Earlier this year, The Guardian outed the company for testing commercial drones in remote areas of California without having the required FAA 333 Exemption. Google was testing the drones under a special agreement with NASA, utilizing the Certificate of Authorization (COA) program normally intended for government agencies.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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