Google’s Project Wing: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Introducing Project WingProject Wing is a Google[x] project that is developing a delivery system that uses self-flying vehicles. As part of our research, we built a vehicle and traveled to Queensland, Australia for some test flights. There, we successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to a couple of Australian farmers. We’re…2014-08-28T23:11:45Z

Google is testing drone deliveries as part of its Project Wing initiative. The tech giant plans to use these drones for disaster relief. Learn more about Project Wing in the video above, or read on to learn more about this drone program.

1. Project Wing Drones Have Been in Development for Two Years

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According to the BBC, the secretive Project Wing has been under development for two years. While some question the privacy issues inherent in a big data company having access to drone aircraft, it seems that Google’s plans for Project Wing are pretty benevolent. The BBC notes that Project Wing was first conceived as a way to deliver defibrillator kits to heart attack victims. The future goal of the project is now to use these drones to bring supplies into areas that have been hit by natural disasters, and can’t be accessed by other forms of transport.

2. Google X Is Overseeing Project Wing

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Google X is the “moonshot” laboratory arm of Google, perhaps best known for its self-driving car project. The current VP of Google X, Megan Smith, is rumored to be leaving Google to work for the federal government. Smith is rumored to be a top candidate for a vacant government job: Chief Technology Officer of the United States.

3. Google Recently Purchased Titan Aerospace

Titan Aerospace was acquired by Google earlier this year. As we reported at the time, Google appeared to snag Titan right out from under Facebook’s nose. Facebook was rumored to be willing to pay $60 million to buy Titan. Facebook opted to buy Ascenta, another maker of solar-powered drones, instead of Titan Aerospace.

4. Amazon Is Also Experimenting With Drones

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Last year, Amazon expressed its intent to use drones to deliver packages to customers. The Daily Mail notes that Amazon’s drone plan will utilize drone aircraft that can travel at more than 50 mph. These drones can carry packages that weigh up to five pounds, which is ideal for Amazon, a company where over 85 percent of customer orders weigh less than five pounds.

5. Drones Occupy a Grey Legal Area

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(Getty Images)

Domestic drone aircraft usage is something that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is taking more and more of an interest in. According to TheNextWeb, drone use for business purposes is banned in the US, at least for now. However, drones can be used for some personal uses, and business use of drones is expected to be fully legal by 2015. Here’s a quick primer from TheNextWeb:

“It’s worth keeping in mind here that the classing of drones as business use still applies even if you’re using one over private land at less than 400 feet – even if that activity isn’t directly making you money. For example, a realtor using a drone to take aerial shots of a property is still in breach of the rules and cannot be operated under section 336 of Public Law 112-95 which covers hobbyists.

Two drones do in fact already have certification for commercial use – the ScanEagle and Aeroenvironment’s Puma drone – but are only cleared for use in the Arctic. Neither of them are particularly like the sort of consumer drones available to purchase today anyway.

There also seems to be a general understanding that the FAA isn’t responsible for airspace under 400 feet, but this is incorrect, it says. According to the organization, it has broad provisions that cover from the ground up.”

MartketWatch has a handy map that shows which states have made drones illegal.