Google to build fleets of autonomous delivery drones

Google has built and tested autonomous aerial vehicles, which it believes could be used for goods deliveries. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28964260
The project is being developed at Google X, the company’s clandestine tech research arm, which is also responsible for its self-driving car.
Project Wing has been running for two years, but was a secret until now.
The prototype vehicles that the company has built have successfully been tested by delivering packages to remote farms in Queensland, Australia from neighbouring properties.
Australia was selected as a test site due to what Google calls “progressive” rules about the use of drones, which are more tightly controlled in other parts of the word.
Dual mode
Project Wing’s aircraft have a wingspan of approximately 1.5m (4.9ft) and have four electrically-driven propellers.
The small, white glossy machine has a “blended wing” design where the entire body of the aircraft provides lift.
The vehicle is known as a “tail sitter” – since it rests on the ground with its propellers pointed straight up, but then transitions into a horizontal flight pattern.
This dual mode operation gives the self-flying vehicle some of the benefits of both planes and helicopters.
It can take off or land without a runway, and can hold its position hovering in one spot. It can also fly quickly and efficiently, allowing it to cover larger distances than the more traditional quadcopter vehicles available commercially.
The vehicles are pre-programmed with a destination, but then left to fly themselves there automatically.
This differs from many military drone aircraft, which are often remotely controlled by a pilot on the ground, sometimes on the other side of the world.
Eventually Google said it could use unmanned flying vehicles to deliver shopping items to consumers at home. That’s a use that retail giant Amazon has already stated an interest in, with its proposed Prime Air service – the announcement of which generated headlines at the end of last year:
Amazon has asked the US Federal Aviation Administration for permission to conduct outdoor tests.
“The things we would do there are not unlike what is traditionally done in aerospace,” said Mr Voss.
“It will be clear for us what level of redundancy we need in the controls and sensors, the computers that are onboard, and the motors, and how they are able to fail gracefully such that you don’t have catastrophic problems occurring.”

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