Google has been secretly testing flying robots in Australia

29 August 2014

Remember when Jeff Bezos said that Amazon would be doing its deliveries by unmanned flying drones in the future? As it turns out, Google has been performing its own secret tests Down Under with exactly the same intentions.

The scheme, called Project Wings, takes a slightly different tact to Amazon’s mini helicopter approach. Google’s drones look and function more like a glider/plane hybrid once they’re in the air, although take-off is achieved by aligning the craft vertically and letting the propellers do the work.

In total, each drone weighs just 20 pounds (9kg) and has a wingspan of 5 feet (1.5 metres). Delivery is made not by landing, but by lowering the package on a long wire while hovering high above in the air. The wire is then retracted and the drone flies off back to wherever it came from.

By the team’s own admission, Project Wings is years away from seriously considering commercial application. Even so, we find comfort that a second mega-corporation is working on this tech, not only because we love the idea of same-day delivery for our various internet purchases, but because it has the potential for real-world benefits if utilised by relief workers and global charities.

Especially in the case of disaster or war relief, when it may be dangerous to send in pilots carrying goods, a fleet of medicine-bearing robots would certainly not go unappreciated.

Admittedly, we do also like the idea of GPS-based delivery right to your location. Imagining being on a camping trip and feeling the need for pizza, or perhaps a mending kit to fix an accidentally torn tent. Automated delivery of anything to anywhere sounds like the kind of future we'd like to live in.



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