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Alphabet’s Wing Becomes the First Certified Air Carrier for Drones in the US

Delivery Drone; Image Source: https://www.engadget.com/2014/08/28/google-x-project-wing/?guccounter=1

Alphabet’s Wing division, on 23rd April 2019, got Air Carrier Certification from US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and thus became the first drone delivery company to receive it. This certification effectively gives Wing the green light to begin commercial deliveries in the US using drones. This surely is an important step for the drone industries in the United States.

Alphabet is Google’s parent company. Google has been around since 1997. But in August 2015, Google split up and became multiple subsidiary companies, including one called Google. Alphabet became the holding company that owned them all. Wing is a subsidiary of Alphabet that develops technology for drone-based delivery.

People may enjoy shopping but they definitely love online shopping. Customers from all over the world flock to the internet to make purchases. It’s become a much easier way to shop considering that it doesn’t even require you to leave your house! The biggest advantage is that there’s no crowds or queues, especially no traffic jam at all. It is also easy to compare prices and reviews.

Project Wing delivery drone sits on a charging pad at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia

Project Wing delivery drone sits on a charging pad at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia ; Image Source: www.bloomberg.com

So if we see, we’ll notice that online shopping is a blessing from customers side of view. But what about the other side? The sellers side? They still have to face every days traffic jam. The delivery persons still face problems regarding transportation to give delivery in remote or undeveloped areas.

It delays the delivery time. It takes hours or even many days to reach the product to the consumers. Imagine placing an order online and receiving it within 15-20 mins. This is no more a dream, the technology to do this is already here and it comes in the form of delivery drones.

Getting Air Carrier Certification from the FAA is the result of years of work to safely integrate drones into the national airspace. Alphabet debuted Wing in 2014, and the FAA first granted Wing permission to test its drones in 2016 for delivery services. These drones take off vertically then fly like a fixed-wing plane. In Australia, the company has done over 70,000 tests and since then Wing has delivered 3,000 packages.

Wing has worked since 2014 to build a small, lightweight aircraft and navigational system which can safely deliver small packages to specific destinations at consumers doorsteps, in only a few minutes. But with drones, only one package can be delivered before returning to base. This may seem like another disadvantage. But when we think about its advantages, the disadvantage may possibly be overlooked.

 A Virginia family receives their air delivery as part of Wing’s validation testing with the FAA

A Virginia family receives their air delivery as part of Wing’s validation testing with the FAA; Image Source: medium.com

The biggest challenge of Wing drone delivery project was to ensure the safety issues. If not controlled properly, they may do harm on people while flying or even by dropping the deliverable packages on them. The FAA certification required them to submit evidence that their operations were safe. They had to prove that a delivery by Wing carries a lower risk to person walking on streets than the same trip made by car.

To these data they had to perform thousands of tests and deliveries. “This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao.

After receiving the FAA certification, they expressed their next goal is to spread their technology among other businesses. They said their next steps will be to further their participation in the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) in Southwest Virginia.

Google Drone; Image Source: ride.tech

For the next several months, their goal is to reach out to as large as possible businesses and community members in the Blacksburg and Christiansburg areas to demonstrate their technology, answer questions, and collect feedback with the goal of launching a delivery trial later this year.

Achieving certification of US Federal Aviation Administration opened new opportunities for delivery drone industries. Air delivery also provides greater autonomy to those who need assistance with mobility. Also, drones will reduce traffic on our roads and pollution and carbon emissions in our skies.

Goods like medicine or food can now be delivered faster by drone, giving families, or any other busy consumers. Regardless of what Wing delivers, earning the FAA’s first Air Carrier Certification is a crucial step in the race to bring drone deliveries to the US.

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