Almost two years ago, a startup called Skydio posted some video of a weird-looking drone autonomously following people as they jogged and biked along paths and around trees. Even without much in the way of detail, this was exciting for three reasons: First, the drone was moving at a useful speed and not crashing into stuff using only onboard sensing and computing, and second, the folks behind Skydio included Adam Bry and Abe Bachrach, who worked on high-speed autonomous flight at MIT before cofounding Project Wing at Google[x] (now just called X).
Okay Google, I give up. I honestly have no idea what you're trying to "moonshot" with Project Wing. A couple of weeks ago, X, the experimental technology lab that is part of Alphabet, Google's parent company, posted a new video about their delivery drone effort that, if anything, manages to make things look less exciting. From my perspective (as a journalist who has to watch a vast number of videos like this), this falls under the category of overly inspirational "delivery drones will change the world" marketing material. It makes a lot of grandiose statements but doesn't show a lot of tangible progress.
The race between Alphabet Inc. and Amazon to unleash the first fleet of delivery drones is now neck and neck. The White House has given Alphabet Inc.'s delivery drone service the greenlight to start testing its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) at a US site. This initiative is part of The White House's project to understand this technology and what safety measures need to be implemented before unleashing flocks into the open skies. The race between Alphabet Inc. and Amazon to unleash the first fleet of delivery drones is now neck and neck. The White House has given Alphabet Inc.'s delivery drone (pictured) service the greenlight to start testing its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) at a US site Alphabet Inc. first unveiled its secret two-year drone delivery project in 2014.
Don't be surprised if you see a drone outside on your doorstep this summer. Federal regulators want to begin using drones for'limited package deliveries' as soon as within the next few months, according to the Wall Street Journal. Officials have been working with Silicon Valley tech giants and aerospace companies to develop proposals, rewrite regulations and address safety concerns, as part of an effort to make the technology a reality. A drone delivers an Amazon package to customers in Germany. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made similar promises last year, but their efforts were stymied by growing concerns from local and national law-enforcement agencies.
That's what the likes of Amazon hope. Drones have the potential to carry small items quickly from one place to another without having to worry about traffic, personnel costs or labour strikes. But it's a bit more complicated than that: drones as we know them today are either giant, expensive killing machines or small, hovering things that can carry little more than a camera. Most can already ferry a small box of items weighing a couple of kilograms, but Amazon and others are looking to build drones capable of carrying up to 25kg for around 10 miles, likely meaning packages weighing under 3kg each. Good enough for onions and a pint of milk – but forget getting your next washer-drier flown into your back yard.