Google has been secretly testing delivery by drone, the company announced Thursday.
A team of engineers at Google X, the technology company’s long-range research lab, safely carried out more than 30 1-kilometer test flights this month. The deliveries, consisting of items ranging from a chocolate bar to first aid, took place in Queensland, Australia to avoid the Federal Aviation Administration’s strict U.S. restrictions on drones.
Now that Amazon has almost convinced the world its delivery drones aren’t a publicity stunt, the world may be ready to accepting Google at its word.
The Google X drone is a quadcopter, but it looks nothing like the ones many U.S. hobbyists use for aerial photography and other projects, or Amazon’s Prime Air octocopter. Instead, it relies on fixed wings for fast forward flight, and its four rotors for vertical takeoff and landing. The company released a YouTube video to show how it flies.
Project Wing, as the video labels the drone, is capable of carrying a roughly four-pound package. Meanwhile, Amazon says Prime Air can carry up to five pounds. Despite the design differences, it’s apparent that Google’s drone could realistically compete with Amazon’s.
According to Astro Teller, Google X’s Captain of Moonshots—what Google calls its biggest, craziest ideas—delivery is just the beginning. Google envisions being able to use the drones for humanitarian solutions, too.
“Even just a few of these, being able to shuttle nearly continuously could service a very large number of people in an emergency situation,” Teller told the BBC.
Screenshot via Google X