The latest endeavor to emerge from Google Inc’s advanced-research lab is flying into a field buzzing with competitors.Google X said Thursday it is developing a system of drones to deliver goods. Rival Amazon.com Inc is also testing delivery drones, and Domino’s Pizza Inc.tested delivering pies via drone in 2013.
Google said a 5-foot-wide single-wing prototype from its Project Wing carried supplies including candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water and radios to two farmers in Queensland, Australia, earlier this month. Google’s drones are 2½ feet high and have four propellers that move into different positions for different stages of flight. Packages fit into a gap in the middle of the wing. Google said it began test flights last year.
Google began working on drones in 2011 and said it expected it would “take years to develop a service with multiple vehicles flying multiple deliveries per day.”Google aims to have the drones flying programmed routes at altitudes of 130 feet to 200 feet with the push of a button. Precise navigation will be needed to pick the most efficient routes while controlling noise, respecting the privacy and safety of people on the ground and delivering items to an area the size of a doorstep, Google said.
A YouTube video released by Google shows Australian farmers ordering dog food. The drone takes off vertically, with its single wing pointing to the sky. Once in the air, the wing turns into a horizontal position and the vehicle flies fast, more like an airplane than a hovering, helicopter-like drone.
Google X works on long-term, risky projects with big potential payoffs, which Chief Executive Larry Page calls moonshots. The company hopes its drones will create new economic growth opportunities by moving goods around more efficiently.