Alphabet’s Wing is working on expanding its library of delivery drones to better match the unmanned aircraft to the package and the delivery mission.
Wing, Alphabet’s drone delivery startup, revealed a range of new prototype aircraft capable of carrying a variety of payloads in a video on YouTube today.
According to the Wing, the new delivery drones would use the same core components as the unmanned aircraft currently carrying medications and other small products in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs.
Wing aims to right-size the drone for delivery mission
Wing CEO Adam Woodworth says the goal is to right-size the delivery sector so that the proper cargo matches a similar-sized vehicle or drone.
“Just as the ideal vehicle for carrying a ton of gravel would be a dump truck rather than a sedan, the ideal aircraft to carry a bottle of medication is not the same as the best one to deliver a gallon of milk, and neither is suited to deliver a refrigerator,” Woodworth said.
Wing’s flagship drone, the Hummingbird, is capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 2.5 pounds.
“Aircraft operate most efficiently around one design point,” Woodworth said. “Big planes carry big stuff, and small planes carry small stuff. For planes like ours, typically that stuff should be about 25 percent of the mass of the plane. Moving away from that ratio means excess aircraft for the goods being carried, translating to more cost, more energy, and more materials expended. This can create a spiral: extra hardware necessitates a bigger plane with more battery and bigger motors, which, in turn, requires an even bigger plane with even more battery and even bigger motors”.
Wing shows a range of various-sized delivery drones in the video below, including a bigger drone capable of carrying up to seven pounds and a smaller drone capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 0.6 pounds.
Wing’s drone delivery successes abroad
Its greatest success has been in Logan, Australia, a Brisbane suburb where it has completed over 50,000 deliveries. In the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area suburbs of Frisco and Little Elm, Wing began its first drone delivery service in April.
Small shipping containers are parked adjacent to participating establishments and used as mini-hangars from which Wing delivery drones are launched.
Each partner store’s staff load the things they get via online purchases into a cardboard package linked to the drone once the items are brought outdoors by the personnel. The drone is remotely piloted to the customer’s house by the Wing’s operations team.
Orders from Walgreens, Blue Bell Creameries, EasyVet, and Texas Health are currently the only places where clients may place their orders through Wing. With the introduction of several aircraft sizes, Wing intends to increase the variety of delivery options available to customers.
Despite all of these new delivery drones being prototypes, Wing has not provided any information on when they will be deployed for delivery service.
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