A Google offshoot will pave the way for commercial drone deliveries in the U.S. after getting the green light from the FAA. The precedent, which was foreshadowed by the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Executive Director, Jay Merkle, last month, is a major step for commercial drones in the U.S. where regulators have been slow to allow widespread usage. Approval of the drones, which will be operated by a company called Wing, effectively classifies the company as a small aircraft operator -- a determination that carries a stringent set of mandatory guidelines. Wing has scored another major victory with its recent approval from the FAA in the U.S. Wing, the first commercial drone company approved by the FAA in the U.S. will start delivering in Virginia. The drones is powered entirely by electric and can fly up to 120 km/h (almost 75 mph).
The Wing company, a Google spinoff, has won federal approval to operate its drone delivery system as an airline in the U.S. Wing hide caption The Wing company, a Google spinoff, has won federal approval to operate its drone delivery system as an airline in the U.S. The Federal Aviation Administration has certified Alphabet's Wing Aviation to operate as an airline, in a first for U.S. drone delivery companies. Wing, which began as a Google X project, has been testing its autonomous drones in southwest Virginia and elsewhere. "Air Carrier Certification means that we can begin a commercial service delivering goods from local businesses to homes in the United States," Wing said in a statement posted to the Medium website. The company has touted many advantages of using unmanned drones to deliver packages, from reducing carbon emissions and road congestion to increasing connections between communities and local businesses. "This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential," Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a statement from the agency.
In what's sure to be a college student's dream come true, drones will soon be delivering burritos on the campus of Virginia Tech. The experimental service, to begin this month and last just a few weeks, is a test by Project Wing, a unit of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and the Blacksburg, Virginia, university have agreed to participate. The Federal Aviation Administration approved the venture, the most extensive test yet in the U.S. of what many companies -- including Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. -- hope will eventually become routine drone deliveries of products. Amazon has begun a round of trials at a location in the U.K. "It's the first time that we're actually out there delivering stuff to people who want that stuff," said Dave Vos, who heads Project Wing. Project Wing will use self-guided hybrids that can fly like a plane or hover like a helicopter.
Government-owned Australia Post has announced its plans to trial the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) -- or drones -- to deliver small parcels around the country. According to the postal service, the closed-field trial, which is slated for later this year, is an important next step in testing the new technology which it hopes will result in the faster transportation of time critical items like medication, as well as simply keeping the online shopper happy. Australia Post managing director and CEO Ahmed Fahour let slip last month his interest in using drones to deliver parcels in rural Australia, saying when a driver stops at the farm gate of a property they could use a drone to deliver the mail to the door of the farmhouse, rather than complete the trip up an often long driveway. "We're excited to be the first major parcels and logistics company in Australia to test RPA technology for commercial delivery applications," Fahour said in a statement Friday. "We will put this innovative technology through its paces over the coming weeks and months to understand what it can deliver, how far it can travel, and ultimately, how our customers could receive a parcel.
America's space agency is entering the second phase of a four-step plan to draw up rules for small drones that fly under 500 feet. The NASA project is meant to develop performance standards for drones that would be used for commercial purposes by companies such as Amazon and Google. The system will be designed to help drone operators deal with weather conditions, restricted air space, airport congestion, and other obstacles. NASA is looking to present its research to the Federal Aviation Administration by the end of 2019. By that time, it estimates there will be 7 million small drones in operation, including 2.6 million aircraft for commercial use.