Feds give Google OK to test Project Wing drone deliveries
The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has been very cautious about drone testing in the US so far, but that’s about to change. The White House has announced that Google has been given permission to test its Project Wing delivery services at six FAA-sanctioned test sites. The flights will be part of a new push by the US National Science Foundation, which is spending over $35 million on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research and testing over the next five years
Google’s Project Wing drones, first revealed in 2014, actually take off vertically then fly like a fixed-wing plane, making them a lot different from Amazon’s drones. Although it’s technically against the rules, the search giant has been testing deliveries over private land in the US already by exploiting a NASA waiver. According to a White House fact sheet, Google will not only test drones with cargo that work beyond line-of-site, but also “develop and deploy an open-interface, airspace management solution for safe low-altitude operations.”
The initiatives were unveiled during a big shindig today, with a keynote from US Chief Technology Office Megan Smith, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich. The White House emphasized that government must be more flexible about allowing companies to test tech like drones in America. Amazon, for one, recently announced that the FAA’s restrictive rules would force it to test its services in the UK.
FAA chief Huerta cited rescue operations and crop dusting as two big areas where drones could assist or replace manned aircraft. “Just last week, two people were killed in two different accidents involving crop dusters – exactly the type of job a small unmanned aircraft could do with much less risk to people and property on the ground,” he said.