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Viral Now: Google spreading wings with drone delivery

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | September 02, 2014
The search giant is developing drone delivery technology to transform the way goods will be delivered in future.

There may come a time when a home delivered product comes not with the delivery man, but drops out of the sky into your hands. Google is working on transforming the way goods will be delivered in future with airborne drones capable of flying on their own and delivering anything from candies to medicine.

Google's Project Wing video

The global search giant has been developing a delivery system that uses self-flying vehicles under Project Wing. Google X, the division that works on Google's most ambitious projects, has been working on drone devices for the last two years.

The tech major recently posted a video on its YouTube channel featuring a prototype of a drone in Queensland, Australia carrying out some test flights. In Australia, Google has already made deliveries to locals (farmers) - including shipments of candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water and radios. However, the company clarified that it will be a few more years before the system is ready for commercial use.

The video showcases an early version of the drone having a 1.5 m-wide wingspan and capable of flying pre-programmed routes. The test run shows a man ordering dog food, which the Google drone delivers smoothly. Posted on August 28th, the video attracted 1.5 million views by Monday evening.

Meanwhile, Google's archrival Amazon Inc has been experimenting with self-flying vehicles to carry merchandise bought by customers on its online store. Last December, Amazon showcased its Prime Air drone to the world. According to various media reports, the buzz is that India - not the US - may be the first country to have global e-commerce giant's drone delivery service.

However, Google and Amazon still need to gain government approval to fly commercial drones in many countries, including the US. Last month, Google US asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to expand its drone testing. The FAA currently allows hobbyists and model aircraft makers to fly drones, but commercial use is mostly banned.

Back home, in May this year, a Mumbai-based restaurant, Francesco's Pizzeria flew a boxed pizza through a drone from its premises to a customer just under a mile away on the roof of a skyscraper. Domino's, one of the world's largest pizza delivery outlets, had also indicated plans to begin drone deliveries when it released footage of one of its "domicopter" drones delivering pizzas after a flight across fields. At present, there are certain restrictions on the regulatory front like the drone not allowed to fly over security establishments or above an altitude of 400 ft.

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