Amazon and Alphabet Team Up To Deliver New Drone Industry Opportunities Inside the US!

Contributed by Lizabeth Lamarr

Project Wing, a division of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has teamed up with competitor Amazon to launch drone delivery in an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved test. Six drone industry test sites, includes the campus of Virginia Tech feature drone delivered chipotle orders to test participants. In fact, Dave Vos, who heads Project Wing, said “food was selected as the demonstration cargo because it’s a challenge”.

On the surface, the test seems pretty simple: Deliver the product timely, in good condition. Actually, that simple mandate requires integration of a complex air traffic control system, which could enable large scale drone fleets like Amazon and Alphabet want to build. The test UAS (Unmanned Aviation System) must not only prevent midair drone collisions, shield study participants (Current regulations forbid flight over humans) while following all other FAA regulations, delivering food, still hot, in good condition, quickly enough that the participant who ordered it, still wants it. The FAA does not currently allow drones to be piloted in areas where the drone out of site to the pilot, so pilots will be located nearby, ready to take control as needed. After substantial research and development, labor and lobbying, operators of those airborne networks hope to eventually enjoy as much financial benefit from managing that infrastructure as it does from the transaction or delivery.

It is hoped that the Government will benefit from the study as well. According to the White House August 2, 2016 press release:
“…Data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators answer critical safety and human factors questions for UAV cargo delivery operations. Project Wing is planning for the testing to include operations with external cargo loads and to build towards beyond line of sight (BLOS) capabilities. The company will also begin to develop and deploy an open-interface, airspace management solution for safe low-altitude small UAS (sUAS) [student Unmanned Aviation Systems] operations using existing low cost, scalable communication and information technologies. The work, which will focus on encouraging good citizenship in operation and collaboration between and across industry and government, will help ensure safe integration of sUAS in the layer of airspace under 400 feet.”

Google and Amazon are not the only ones hoping the drone industry testing will open up new regulatory options. Other businesses, like Walmart are closely watching the test for drone opportunities. To learn more follow the following link: Whitehouse Drone Initiative


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