Alphabet Inc’s Project Wing is taking the next step to deliver items to people’s homes via drone, beginning a demonstration project this week in Australia with a Mexican food chain and a pharmacy company. Small drones will begin delivering actual purchases to backyards in rural areas, James Ryan Burgess, co-lead of Project Wing, said in a blog post Monday.
Alphabet’s effort underlines the difficulty in going from tests to reality. The drone’s sensors will plot trees, fences and power lines from the sky before lowering the purchased items to the ground with a winch. “This is more complicated than it looks,” Burgess said.
The tests are the latest development in the race to perfect a delivery system allowing near instant gratification after people make online purchases. Alphabet’s drones delivered burritos to people on the campus of Virginia Tech last year, but the flights were across a field. Amazon.com Inc delivered popcorn and one of the company’s Fire TV devices to a home last December in England. Companies ranging from startup Flirtey Inc to retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc are also experimenting with the technology.