Google Tests Self-Flying Drones Capable of Delivering Goods

Aug 29, 2014 03:10 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Google is creating airborne drones that the company expects to be capable of flying on their own and delivering anything from medicine to candy, the internet company confirmed this week.

The effort is being called Project Wing, and marks the company's latest expansion beyond its web-based origins and could help Google break into lucrative markets like commerce and package delivery, which would allow it to better compete with rivals like Amazon.

Google said it will most likely take years of development in order to create a service where several vehicles fly out multiple deliveries per day, according to Reuters.

The world's largest internet search engine showcased a video on its website of an early version of the drone, which has a 1.5 meter-(yard-) wide wingspan and is able to fly pre-programmed routes.

The drone that Google revealed in the video this week was equipped with rotors to allow for vertical takeoff and landing, and a fixed wing for plane-like flying.

The drone flew approximately 40 meters above the treeline, dropping a package of chocolate bars to a farmer in Australia, Google confirmed.

"These planes have much more in common with the Google's self-driving car than the remote-controlled airplanes people fly in parks on weekends," Google said on its website.

Google spokesman Ray Gobberg said it is too early to discuss specific business plans for the drones, but the company did confirm that self-flying vehicles could offer faster, less wasteful, and cheaper way to transfer goods, according to Reuters.

Amazon announced in 2013 plans to use aerial delivery drones for a service it has called "Prime Air."

"Local delivery of products is the next battlefront," said Sameet Sinha, an analyst with B. Riley & Co., according to Reuters. "Google has had its eyes on e-commerce, basically trying to get around Amazon."

Google has partnered with local companies in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco for its Shopping Express service, which lets consumers order goods online and have them delivered the same day.

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