Bloomberg reports that Alphabet (Google’s spinoff corporation) plans to test its autonomous delivery service at one of six Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved unmanned aircraft system test sites in the United States.
Both Alphabet and Amazon have committed to developing autonomous drones that can deliver packages with minimal human oversight. Unfortunately for the tech giants, the Federal Aviation Administration does not currently allow drones in the US to operate without a human pilot or beyond that pilot’s line of sight. Until today, most research, development, and testing on these projects had taken place overseas. But, as part of a White House initiative aimed at bolstering the drone industry, Alphabet’s Project Wing has announced that it will begin testing its delivery drones, or UAVs, at one of the six FAA-approved test sites here in the US.
According to the White House press release:
Data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators answer critical safety and human factors questions for UAV cargo delivery operations. Project Wing is planning for the testing to include operations with external cargo loads and to build towards beyond line of sight (BLOS) capabilities. The company will also begin to develop and deploy an open-interface, airspace management solution for safe low-altitude small UAS (sUAS) operations using existing low cost, scalable communication and information technologies. The work, which will focus on encouraging good citizenship in operation and collaboration between and across industry and government, will help ensure safe integration of sUAS in the layer of airspace under 400 feet.