Google Makes a Big Splash in the World of UAVs

Posted by Betsy Lillian on August 29, 2014 No Comments
Categories : Business Operations

Google has revealed that it has something up its sleeve in terms of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) development – and, surprisingly, it has been in the works for quite some time.

The company giant has posted a YouTube video highlighting what it calls ‘Project X,’ a program in which a team tests UAVs for delivery – similar to what online retailer Amazon has been pushing for for since December.

The video’s description notes that flights have been taking place in Queensland, Australia, where items such as a “first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats and water” were brought by UAVs to farmers.

The project is being developed by Google X – an arm of Google that conducts technology research near the company headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. And, according to an article from The Atlantic, they have been secretly operating Project X for two years now.

The Atlantic reports that Google X’s first phase of testing in Australia involves a vehicle called a “tail sitter,” which combines the technology of a helicopter and plane in that it takes off in a vertical position but then operates horizontally in the air. A detector knows when the package has reached the destination on the ground and releases the item through a tether, which is then reeled back in.

Astro Teller, the captain of Moonshots for Google X, remarked in the YouTube footage that in the past, “there have been a series of innovations that have each taken a huge chunk out of the friction of moving things around.” He believes that “Project Wing aspires to take another big chunk of the remaining friction out of moving things around in the world.”

“The goal of being here [in Australia] is to show that the hard work over the last two years has resulted in a reliable system that can do autonomous delivery,” added Nicholas Roy, the founder of Project Wing. “It’s years from a product, but it is sort of the first prototype that we want to stand behind.”

What comes next, according to Dave Vos, the lead of Project Wing, “is to take the momentum and the enthusiasm that we’ve built internally and now drive it towards enabling the dream of delivering stuff more quickly – with proper and due safety.”

“Working together, we can get to this future, I think, surprisingly quickly,” Astro Teller added.

To do this, Google notes in the description that it is “looking for partners who can help [them] bring this technology to the world” and offers a form for any interested parties to fill out.

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