Wing, the drone delivery company operated by Google parent Alphabet, unveiled a series of new prototype aircraft designed to handle a variety of payloads. The company said the new drones will share the same underlying components with the aircraft currently in use delivering pharmaceuticals and other small packages in the suburbs outside of Dallas-Fort Worth.
According to Wing CEO Adam Woodworth, the aim is to right-size the delivery industry in order to match the appropriate package with a similar sized vehicle. “Just as the ideal vehicle for carrying a ton of gravel would be a dump truck rather than a sedan, the ideal aircraft to carry a bottle of medication is not the same as the best one to deliver a gallon of milk, and neither is suited to deliver a refrigerator,” Woodworth wrote in a blog post.
In a video, the company showed off a variety of different sized drones, including a larger drone that can carry upward of seven pounds and a smaller drone designed to carry prescription medicine weighing up to 0.6 pounds. Wing’s flagship drone is designed to handle payloads of up to 2.5 pounds. The company said that up to 90 percent of deliveries today are packages that weigh five pounds or less, citing comments made by an Amazon executive.
Drone deliveries were supposed to revolutionize the movement of goods around cities, with companies like Amazon and Uber promising to set up large-scale operations in the near future. Instead, the design technology has mainly focused on small-scale experiments, delivering vaccines and blood to remote locations.