Alphabet’s Wing previews automated drone delivery system

Alphabet’s Wing previews automated drone delivery system

Posted on

Alphabet Inc.’s Wing unit today detailed the Wing Delivery Network, a hardware and software system designed to facilitate high-volume drone deliveries. 

Wing estimates the system will be capable of delivering millions of small packages in the near future. Moreover, the Alphabet unit expects that it will do so at a lower cost  than traditional logistics methods. 

“Wing’s ultimate vision is to deliver people’s packages more efficiently and safely as part of an automated logistics system that routinely moves packages by the millions,” Wing Chief Executive Officer Adam Woodworth wrote in a blog post today. “The economics of drone delivery improve dramatically with scale, and all of the salient metrics (access, safety, and sustainability) become far more meaningful at large volumes.”

Wing began as an internal project at Alphabet’s X research lab and spun off into an independent subsidiary in 2018. It develops custom package delivery drones, as well as software to manage them. Last May, Wing disclosed that it has transported more than 200,000 packages to consumers as part of a test program.

The Alphabet unit’s newly announced Wing Delivery Network is designed to make drone delivery practical on a large scale. The system consists of automation software, specialized drone landing pads and a device known as an AutoLoader. Wing envisions retailers using the system to quickly transport merchandise to consumers who make purchases online.

Wing is one of several companies competing in the nascent drone delivery segment. Current approaches to drone delivery often revolve around a centralized air freight hub. Drones pick up merchandise at the hub, fly to customers’ homes and then return to the facility for charging.

Wing’s new Wing Delivery Network relies not on a centralized logistics facility but rather multiple, geographically disparate drone landing pads. The landing pads double as charging stations. According to Wing, they can be set up on store rooftops and at other locations throughout a city. 

When a drone completes a delivery, it can fly to the nearest landing pad and recharge instead of traveling to a remote logistics hub. This reduces the distance that drones must cover, which can speed up deliveries. Reducing travel distances also has the potential to lower costs.

Wing says that its Wing Delivery Network comprises not only landing pads but also AutoLoaders, stands designed to hold merchandise. Such stands can be placed in a store’s parking lot to facilitate drone deliveries. Employees can place merchandise ordered online on an AutoLoader, then have a Wing drone pick up the package and fly it to the customer’s home.

The Wing Delivery Network includes automation software that reduces the amount of manual work involved in managing drones and landing pads. The software also promises to ease the onboarding process for retailers. Wing envisions retailers signing up for the system simply by buying a set of drones and turning them on. 

According to the Alphabet unit, its automation software can ease regulatory compliance as well. The software automatically checks that drone is ready and approved to fly before it takes off. As part of the process, the system evaluates parameters such as whether a drone is deployed at a location where it’s allowed to make deliveries. 

Wing will start rolling out the Wing Delivery Network over the next year. “By the middle of 2024, we expect our system to be capable of handling millions of deliveries for millions of consumers at a lower cost per delivery than ground transportation can achieve for fast delivery of small packages,” Woodworth wrote.

Photo: Wing

Show your support for our mission by joining our Cube Club and Cube Event Community of experts. Join the community that includes Amazon Web Services and CEO Andy Jassy, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger and many more luminaries and experts.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *