Wing, the drone delivery subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) obtained on April 23, 2019, the authorization of the American authorities to deliver packages to the State of Virginia. A first in the United States.
Americans will now be able to receive their orders thanks to Wing UAVs. The UAV delivery subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, obtained on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, the authorization of the FAA (United States Federal Aviation Agency) to deliver packages to individuals. If this measure only concerns the state of Virginia for the time being, there is a good chance that it will become widespread in the country. This new flying factor is electric, equipped with 14 propellers that can propel it at 120 km/h while flying 120 meters above the ground. It navigates with a front mounted camera and onboard technologies to determine its latitude, speed, and avoid collisions.
The protection of personal data is being debated in the face of the arrival of this technology. However, Google claims that the images potentially collected by the cameras will only be used for technical analysis. Besides, many laws govern the use of drones, such as the ban on flying over crowds or private property. These measures are also intended to alleviate criticism of noise pollution or accident risks.
The purpose of the FAA approval is to control the use of drones and improve confidence, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who wants to be reassuring in a statement. “This is an important step in trying to integrate drones into our economy safely.” Safety remains our number one priority as this technology continues to develop to its full potential.
An authorization that is difficult to obtain
This authorization is the result of a long-standing project that began in 2013. It is the first time that the US regulator has granted a company specializing in UAVs the same status as an air cargo carrier. Wing UAVs have already performed 70,000 flights and more than 3,000 home deliveries in tests in Australia since 2014. To obtain FAA certification, Wing has been working on its drones at Virginia Tech University since fall 2016. After nearly 7 years of procedures to demonstrate its reliability, the subsidiary, Wing Aviation LLC, now has the same certifications as small US airlines and must submit compliance manuals, training programs, and a safety hierarchy.
The next steps
These authorizations in Australia and the United States open up encouraging prospects for the future of UAV delivery to new territories. Regarding the European market, Helsinki would be the next step in Alphabet. They will probably also facilitate the projects of other interested actors. On March 26, 2019, UPS announced drones to transport medical samples to WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. For its part, Amazon with “Prime Air Delivery” has been planning to implement UAV delivery from its warehouses since 2016.