Jeff Bezos might not be as flaky as we thought, at least one other technology giant also believes in drone delivery.
The Guardian reported that Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG, GOOGL) is testing delivery drones in a remote part of California with NASA’s help. Documents filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicate that the Google drove can fly at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour and carry up to 55 pounds (25 kilograms) of cargo.
The drones are part of a Google effort called Project Wing which is similar to Amazon.com Inc.’s (NYSE: AMZN) highly-publicized testing of drones. Google has been able to test the drones in US air space by taking advantage of a Certificate of Waiver that gives it an exemption to the FAA’s ban on commercial drones.
Both Google and NASA refused to comment on The Guardian’s report. The drones are apparently being tested by a secret Google research project called X Lab which is part of Larry Page’s Alphabet holding company.
Google Wants Aerial Data Collection by Drone
Google has also applied for a 333 exemption from the FAA which would allow it to use drones for aerial data collection in the United States. It is not clear what Google would use that data for the company could be planning to use drones for Google Maps surveying, Google Earth photography, improved-cell phone service or to gather data for efforts likes its autonomous cars or delivery.
Google is already in the delivery business through its Google Express online retail experiment in which couriers pick up merchandise from retailers and take it to customers. It is not clear if Google has any plans to integrate Project Wing and Google Express.
Postal Drone Delivery being tested
Switzerland’s post office has become the first in the world to start testing drone delivery in July, The Guardian reported. Swiss Post and Swiss WorldCargo – Swiss International Air Lines’ air freight subsidiary – are apparently testing the drones manufactured by a US company called Matternet right now. Swiss Post has no plans to actually start drone delivery for at least five years.
It is not clear if other companies like Google are involved in the Swiss testing or not. It looks as if drone delivery could soon become a reality. One has to wonder how the Teamsters Union (which represents UPS drivers) will react to that.