In an exclusive look provided to The Atlantic, Google today unveiled Project Wing, one of many "Google X" studies designed to produce "moonshot" advances in technology, health, and science.

Project Wing may sound familiar: just in time for Christmas last year, Jeff Bezos gave 60 Minutes an exclusive sneak-peak at Amazon Prime Air, the retailer's own drone-based delivery initiative. While you may be keen to shout 'copycat!' Google's Project Wing has been quietly developed over the last two years, having started out as an initiative to deliver defibrillators to people having heart attacks (yes, really).

Google has dropped the heart-starter premise, though, in favor of delivering you stuff. Like dog food.

Google conducted a series of 30 test flights in Australia earlier this month, where commercial drone operation laws are more lax. Google has, of course, developed its own aircraft, and it is, to use the parlance of our times, freaking awesome. The design is a hybrid helicopter-delta-wing called a tail-sitter that takes off vertically before maneuvering itself horizontal for maximum velocity.

The drone's payload is housed in the underbelly of the vehicle, attached to a bundle of sensors known as the "egg." When the drone reaches its destination, the payload is dropped via a fishing line down to the ground, and when the "egg" detects the cargo has made contact with earth, it detaches from the package and is pulled back up into the drone. The drone never lands - it just hovers vertically while the delivery is completed, then flies back on its merry way to home base.

The amount of cargo these drones can hold seems to be, as with Amazon's prototypes, very, very small. Given that we're just now building electrically-driven drones that can carry even moderately sized camcorders, the notion of delivering something much larger than a big paperback book still seems a way off yet, something Google concedes, saying these drones are an indefinite number of "years" away from consumer viability.

Google hasn't even actually settled on a craft design, and like most things Google X, Project Wing is far from a sure thing even in the conceptual sense. Still, pretty neat stuff. The full Atlantic piece is pretty long, but it's a good read, so check it out.

The Atlantic

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • WitnessG

    Should deliver the next Nexus with these drones.

    • ross

      Not if it comes to be a 5.9" brick

      • Stoffers

        I'd hope the package were a bit bigger than the phone, I would not complain.

  • oneyedmonkey

    This just in apple now patenting air delivery drones, suing Google for copying them!

    • Kevin

      What an original joke.

      • oneyedmonkey

        What an original reply.

        • Kevin

          I'm not the one trying to be a fanboy here.

          • oneyedmonkey

            You do realize you are on a android news website right?

          • Android Crook

            Let's just face facts, you're an upvote whore with a completely unfunny joke that's just been regurgitated in far too many contexts

          • oneyedmonkey

            I gave you an up vote, it seems like you need one. I won't offend your partner Kevin again.

          • Android Crook

            LOLOL I just did that to set off the keyboard warrior inside of you. Out-trolling the troll. My original comment still stands tho.

          • oneyedmonkey


          • Kevin

            Yea so what? That doesn't mean you have to keep telling the same boring joke over and over. It just looks like someone is desperate over Apple. Maybe you should quit the circle jerk?

          • oneyedmonkey


          • Chad Griffith

            Umad bro? Trololololololololol

      • hairyback

        Apple trolling is like dropping a really bad fart- they're hilarious every time.

      • http://mekakiwi.blogspot.com.br/ ED-Zが現れた!

        Actually, the joke is so old that Apple already patented it and will sue you...

    • renGek

      Nah, apple is busy with uber innovation like a larger screen phone because nobody has done that before or nfc or launching semi decent sort of ok mapping software. Who needs drones, driverless cars, satellites for worldwide Internet, 1gps Internet, same day product delivery, defibrillators to save lives....

      • oneyedmonkey


  • silver_arrow

    The thing I take away from this is that now Google X has an official logo. Guess that means some of their products will be Google X branded.

  • Nicholas McDonald

    Okay so all I need to do now is start making some flying nets.

  • AbbyZFresh

    Let's see how far Amazon's got in their drone progress.

  • http://www.twitter.com/iksrajkumar Rajkumar

    Mid-air fun : amazon drones and google drone fight.... people watching it WIN shipments :P

    • Darrien Glasser

      Dang, I was hoping that bold was a link to the actual fight. I'm sorely disappointed.

  • Stoffers

    My only issue with this concept is oversaturation. What happens when Google starts delivering hundreds of packages a day in an area, Amazon follows, then Ebay also does the same. Soon you have thousands of dumb drones flying straight to their destination, adding in collision avoidance systems will be quite expensive and if it's not done very costly. The sky will eventually be littered with drones.

    • kashtrey

      The problem with this, to me, is security, what's to keep the unscrupulous type from shooting drones out of the sky and harvesting the package.

      • blahmoomoo

        I'm sure they'll have a communication system in place to report the state of the drones and, if anything unexpected happens, they can take action. Not foolproof, but if they make the electronics tamper resistant, they could track it even after the drone was taken down.

        I'm sure shooting down a drone would be breaking some law about destruction of property. I'd be surprised if they didn't make sure that they could enforce that, if it becomes reality.

      • zepy3

        To be fair there's nothing stopping someone from stealing your package on a UPS, FEDEX or USPS truck right now other than a driver and they're not with the truck a large percentage of time.

        • mechapathy

          Not to mention someone stealing the package off the doorstep. At least a drone could know your current location and deliver the package directly to you at any time.

          • Cory S

            I can see it now... drivin along in rush hour traffic an an amazon box crashes down on my hood.

          • Chad Griffith


        • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

          The drivers are supposed to lock the truck every time they leave to deliver a package, and they do lockup where I live (NYC).

      • hairyback

        Whats stopping the drones from delivering your new nexus into the swimming pool.

        • Thomas Delattre

          Nothing, I hope. This way they would have to make it waterproof. #nexus6hype

      • Stoffers

        I'd say the police, is it worth going to prison when that bullet comes down and hits someone for a couple of avacados and tomatoes? Better make some awesome guac before the cops bust down your door.

    • zepy3

      Your assumption is chaos, when the very ability of these drones to be successful would require order. Amazon, Google, no one is going to launch a drone delivery program in which they are chancing a portion of the successful delivery based on if they're struck by a competing drone or not.

    • Roger Siegenthaler

      Collision avoidance isn't _that_ hard, commercial (and non-commercial I guess as well) have had these systems for years, with fully automatic handoff as to which plane goes up and which down, etc.

    • mark

      Imagine if all these companies start sending out packages, won't the roads be clogged up with delivery vans?

      Admittedly, delivery vans can take many packages where as the drones presumably don't, but on the other hand they're smaller and there's much more air space than road space. I'm not convinced the number of deliveries is enough that the airspace would be clogged.

  • paul cook

    this is the biggest waste of money and time ever the drones will never be strong delivery system anyone get take the item and the weight limits, the weather, the faa. really google push the other way screw it put us on moon or mars its been to long. lets googlize mars. first digital banner laid out with radio freq for sending updates and changing the ad for the highest price.

    • Mskina

      A present for you: , , .. ; ; ( ) ! ! !

      • Thomas Delattre

        You delivered.

  • blindexecutioner

    Someone should let them know the FAA is never going to let them use drones for deliveries. Save them some money...

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      And I guess FAA controls all the air space in the world huh?

      • Jeffrey Smith

        Does Google ever launch a new service anywhere other than the US?

        • Lisandro O Oocks

          One word: Orkut

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    The BBC reports that Google intend to use these drones to deliver aid quickly to people in earthquakes, extreme weather events etc. I think that might make them seem more interesting.

  • Fer

    Delivering? Yeah sure, being Google's drones, are just for spying on people

  • Kudu

    It's nice that we have a site like Android Police to provide us with interesting information and news articles which are relevant to Android… oh wait.

    • http://mrmcpowned.com mrmcpowned

      Do you seriously think a site with nothing but Android articles would manage to gain any decent type of viewership? Android Police has always been about Android and anything tangentially related to it in its parts, be it Google news or cellphone accessories.

  • senor_heisenberg

    Looks safer than what Amazon showed off.

  • black

    Didn't Iran shoot down one of these just the other day? I heard it was carrying a nexus 6. I hope our friend there, Mr. Khorasani, can give us a sneak peak.

  • Alexandre Leites

    Condom delivery. When you really need it fast...

    • DrTom

      "Erm. Mrs Johnsson? Yes, sorry for that, it was supposed to be delivered in *my* backyard" May I please? ... Oh forget it, it's too late."

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    It's also called doomsday.
    We're doomed!!!

  • dxppxd

    Had to, just had to