Google’s new pitch for self-flying airplanes seems to be calling for public attention. To commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary, Wing, a company that developed an innovative new way to transport luggage (through the use of a machine-learning-driven optical display) today announced that it’s now setting up testing operations on American soil.
According to a press release:
The company’s first flight will take place in February 2016, though it said the first deliveries are expected to take place within the next few months.
The drone package delivery service, which is comprised of cameras capable of images, ultrasonic sensors, powerful computers, and sensors capable of imaging other drones, has only been available in the United Kingdom since its founding in 2013.
“The company’s vision for a future of smart, connected drones is not just a tech pipe dream, but a dream in itself,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin. “Turing this drone delivery vision into action is a big challenge, but I am excited to see what we can accomplish together.”
Brin says Google aims to make “up to 1 million deliveries” from its drones each year, while the company announced its initial profit margins have more than doubled.
In a keynote in 2015, Larry Page talked about the company’s goal to make YouTube a “massive, giant” platform for services from the web to the cloud, and Brin described Google’s ambitions to make its own spaces “big, early and large.”
While Brin has no doubts that flying drones would open up entirely new markets for search, Maps, and other services, he cautioned that the Google Elevator could be its biggest competitor yet.
Still, it’s no longer entirely clear what role Google’s tech could play.
Enterprise are the lifeblood of any commercial drone network, and have always clamored for drones that could service their operations without needing to fly over people or infrastructure.
But venture capitalists are, unsurprisingly, skeptical of a consumer-oriented innovation that can create a social backlash and complicate a new paradigm for drone delivery. And rightly so, because we’re still at a very early stage of growth for the sector.
“It will take more than good customer service to persuade consumer drone users, who are already skeptical of commercial drone use, to put up with endless headaches, ridiculous fines or regulations,” said Jamshed Bhatt, co-founder of Indiegogo and co-founder of Jawbone, whose connected can be used to provide a range of services from transportation to fitness.