Google has recently completed early trials for an unmanned aerial delivery system in outback Queensland, bringing this pie-in-the-sky concept one step closer to commercial reality.
Presumably as a result of our abundant spaces and liberal air control regulations, Google has chosen a farm in Queensland to become the site of one of the tech giant’s most ambitious projects yet: using autonomous drones for deliveries.
Managed by Google X, a division dedicated to research and development of major projects such as this, Project Wing took place on the Darling Downs. The test was the first that Google’s conducted that includes the involvement of non-Google personnel.
Speaking to the Brisbane Times, Google X Director Astro Teller said the project’s aim was to build a platform for delivering small to medium parcels to consumers using specialist unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), much like the one announced by Amazon late last year.
“There’s no reason we should all have a power drill in our garage when, at any one time, the world is using one hundredth of a per cent of its power drills,” he said from the company’s headquarters in California.
“Also, there are situations like emergency response after a flood, or an earthquake, or a tornado, where bringing medicine or other supplies to people who are in need can be very valuable and time can be of the essence.
“We’re looking at the whole spectrum of value that can be delivered using self-flying vehicles.”
The specific type of drone being tested in Queensland has been described as a ‘tailsitter’ – a design that enables vertical take-offs and landings, reaching speeds of up to 90km/h in flight.
The design is also able to hover in its vertical position, allowing parcels to be lowered down to consumers via cables. This is the specific mode of delivery that Google X is currently trialling.
The trial was conducted in partnership with the Brisbane-based Unmanned Systems Australia, which provided the operating certificate. The company’s Director Phil Swinsburg acted as chief pilot and chief safety operator for the proceedings.