For the first time ever, Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has allowed a video crew to step inside its test facilities. Hop on to see how Wing’s engineers and aircraft designers have developed delivery drone and navigation systems that are actually delivering coffee, roast chickens, Tylenol, and more in different parts of the world today.
Wing invited the team from Adam Savage’s Tested, a popular community playground for makers and curious minds, to its drone testing facility south of San Francisco. This test facility was set up almost a year and half ago and houses about 50 delivery drones.
To be clear, there are no residential houses in the area. But the test facility has been designed in a manner that mimics the actual business environment, especially in terms of the distance a drone may be required to travel to make a delivery.
And to make sure that the test facility is as representative of a real-world scenario as possible, Wing has taken inspiration from neighborhoods in Australia, where it has been successfully conducting commercial drone deliveries for more than a couple of years now.
Essentially, to enable more complex drone operations than what is allowed under Part 107, manufacturers need to get their drones certified as special class aircraft from the FAA. To get this type of certification, Wing was required to complete more than a thousand flight hours in multiple cycles with its aircraft. That’s what the testing crew spent much of 2020 doing.
The video, however, explores many more aspects of Wing’s drone delivery program, including the design elements of the drone, a look at earlier prototypes, safety and redundancy, the software that enables autonomous operations, and air traffic management. Seriously, there’s a lot of information packed in there, and we recommend you carve out some time to watch it in its entirety.
Pro tip: For a better viewing experience, set the playback speed to 0.75 for the first interview segment that has been recorded indoors.
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