Google parent is one of many companies trying to fulfill orders with autonomous UAVs.
Delivery By Drone:
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When Amazon first said it was testing delivering orders by drones back in 2013, it seemed like one of those crazy pie-in-the-sky ideas that would never… um… fly. But here we are three years later with the online retailer stepping up testing and others getting in on the action.
Count Google’s parent Alphabet among those others. The company, via its Project Wing drone unit, is this week running tests on the campus of Virginia Tech in conjunction with burrito purveyor Chipotle.
Lucky staff and students at the university can order burritos from kiosks, which are then prepared in a nearby Chipotle truck. When ready, the food is loaded onto a drone and flown to a designated waiting area. When the drone arrives, it lowers the burritos to the ground, into the arms of ravenous students.
The Project Wing drones are notable because they are autonomous, so there’s no remote-control operator directing them.
The test is also being conducted under the watchful eye of the Federal Aviation Administration, which has a test facility at Virginia Tech. The school is part of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, one of six groups chosen for unmanned vehicle testing by the FAA.
“This is the most complex delivery flight operation that I am aware of that’s occurred on U.S. soil,” Mark Blanks, director of the partnership, told Bloomberg.
Companies running tests have to stay within FAA guidelines, such as no flying over people. Canada is enacting similar rules for commercial operators.
Google and Amazon are hardly the only companies engaged in these tests. Pizza maker Domino’s has performed them in New Zealand while convenience store 7-11 has also successfully delivered Slurpees by drone in Nevada.
It’s all rather funny given the recent report that here in Canada, the national postal service is considering marijuana delivery as a potential answer to its financial woes.
Canada Post, and all other postal services for that matter, may want to start thinking about getting into a different kind of high – drone delivery looks like it could very well be the future.