Google Wing drones launch delivering everything from medicine to … – USA TODAY

DENVER — In a first-of-its-kind delivery, an electric Google Wing drone dropped a package into Denver’s Coors Field baseball stadium to demonstrate the company’s autonomous aerial fleet.
Google has been investing heavily in drone-delivery technology, including in Australia where it’s dropping packages and sushi dinners as often as every 25 seconds in a major city.
The new demonstration in Denver was the first delivery to a professional sports stadium, and the company said it chose Coors Field to showcase its abilities in flying drones in major U.S cities. It also highlights the growing push by companies, including Amazon and Walmart, to use drones instead of trucks to deliver light items.
“Our intent here is not to deliver beer and peanuts to stadium-goers. Our drones will never match the experience of flagging down a vendor and having them toss peanuts to you from 20 seats away,” company spokesman Jonathan Bass said in a statement. “We’re more focused on supplementing existing methods of ground-based delivery to move small packages more efficiently across miles, not feet.”
CNBC reported earlier this month that Amazon’s drone service, Prime Air, has only made about 100 deliveries in the United States despite being announced to great fanfare in December 2013. Launched in the U.S. last summer, the service was supposed to deliver packages weighing up to 5 pounds in less than an hour to customers in Lockeford, California. 
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In contrast, Google’s Wing says it has made 300,000 commercial drone deliveries in the U.S., Europe and Australia. And Walmart said its three drone partners last year completed 6,000 deliveries in the United States. One of those Walmart partners, Zipline, said it has made about 600,000 commercial drone deliveries, mostly of medical supplies in Africa.
Drone deliveries in the United States remain largely in the experimental realm, and are typically limited to specific communities that include the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs, and Hampton Beach and Christianburg, Virginia. Walmart and vendor DroneUp are delivering to 34 locations in six states: Virginia, Arizona, Utah, Florida, Arkansas, and Texas.
While Amazon, Google and Walmart have invested heavily in drone deliveries, operating in U.S. airspace has proven challenging due to regulatory restrictions that in some cases block drones from flying unless they remain within the pilot’s sight. Some experts say that’s why Wing and Walmart have had more success – they focused more heavily on countries willing to let them experiment and then brought those lessons home to the United States.
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While the rules of roads are generally clear and easily navigated by human drivers, drones must be programmed to avoid anything else flying, including birds or medical helicopters, and to determine whether the drop site is clear of snow or pets. Additionally, drone deliveries are typically limited to lightweight objects like medicine or bread, in part because authorities are worried about large drones and heavy payloads crashing on unsuspecting people below as the technology evolves.
Google Wing officials say that a customer who orders a package of pasta will use more energy cooking it than the drone does to deliver it. Wing drones contain both lifting and propulsion propellers and are about 2 feet square. Like other delivery drones, the Wing aircraft gently lower the package on a cable, which then automatically unhooks and retracts.
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Wing said its drones are 10 times as efficient as an electric vehicle and 50 times more efficient than a gas-powered one. Wing envisions a near future in which fleets of drones are available for businesses to make immediate deliveries to customers, returning to charging docks between flights.


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