Google’s Project Wing is back with a live demo

by Ben Fisher

Posted on June 11, 2016

I’ve been intrigued by Google’s Project Wing since the start. I’ve even made two previous posts about it (secret project wing and first project design scrapped). These are the first glimpses of the new design caught in action by attendees at the 2015 Zeitgeist event.

The expected launch date for Project Wing is 2017, with Amazon and Alibaba also looking at launching aerial delivery drones in the near future. The whole promise is that these drones will deliver anywhere in a 5-mile radius within 5 minutes. Air freight doesn’t get cooler than this. The business case for using drones over conventional transport is speed and cost. Delivery drones could end up being 10 times cheaper and 10 times faster. Should this become a reality in the future, it could reshape the way we buy and sell items. The Project Wing drone itself is different from the flying wing as in the previous design. It has a more conventional fixed wing airframe together with arms that support quadrotors. It’s a sleek design, with powerful motors which presumingly makes it quite agile in hover mode. It has 6 motors in total, 4 upward motors for flight during hover mode and 2 forward motors for forward flight. We know the technology is rapidly advancing and that the technology to make aerial drones is here today. To make drone deliveries viable in the future will rely on the infrastructure being rolled out as well as regulatory requirements being met. But if there is a green light on the regulatory front, it looks like Google, Amazon and Alibaba will be there to capitalise. It will also lay the path for new ways of doing things, new start-ups will likely emerge to compete with mainstream incumbents. A personal example, I always forget to buy fish food sticks from the supermarket, which is a real pain because the fish get through the 100g containers in no time. Having the ability to make an order on my phone to have a replacement delivered within, say, 20 minutes would be a real game changer. It could literally drop them into the garden after a few clicks on my mobile. An autonomous system wouldn’t cost much to run either, the overheads are basically electricity, so the cost to deliver would be minimal. We’re talking serious convenience for minimal cost if it ever gets off the ground. Let us know what you think @bookadrone

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