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Google’s drone delivery service Wing has gotten US government approval

By Wong Chung Wee - on 24 Apr 2019, 11:29am

Google’s drone delivery service Wing has gotten US government approval

Image source: Bloomberg, Charles Mostoller

Google’s Wing has gotten approvals from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation (DoT). The drone delivery service plans to begin routine deliveries of small consumer items in the state of Virginia, starting with two rural communities there.

Like in Singapore, there are many regulations that drone operators must abide by, especially with area limits restrictions imposed on drone operations. According to Bloomberg’s report, the FAA and DoT approvals will give Wing the leeway to apply for permission to expand their areas of operations, much like airline operators plying routes across the United States. Wing also has the leeway to charge consumers in Virginia for drone delivery services.

As for the people living in the neighborhoods where Wing has been conducting test deliveries, they appear to be excited about the positive impact the new delivery service will have on their communities. Wing plans to sell items from local merchants and will source for business partners in nearby towns, offering economic opportunities for the local economy.

Image source: Bloomberg, Charles Mostoller

Wing’s delivery drone is a hybrid between a helicopter and a drone. Its capabilities that include vertical take-off, hovering overhead at a safe distance and flight like a plane, make it extremely versatile. It also has a winch-like contraption on its underbelly for lowering its payload to the yards of consumers’ home. Wing drone delivery service is operated by Wing Aviation LLC, a Google subsidiary. What started off as a concept project in 2014 has finally burgeoned into a viable commercial service.

In 2015, SingPost and then IDA Labs conducted a successful drone delivery trial flight; however, in a 2017 SingPost statement, the company stated Singapore is “a highly dense country and it is not conducive to fly drones within the city itself.” Therefore, it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing any flying drones doing parcel deliveries anytime soon but SingPost has reiterated their intentions to build on the lessons picked up from the successful 2015 trial flight and explore future possibilities of implementing drone delivery services that are limited to “remote areas”.

Source: Bloomberg, IMDA

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