Amazon may have been the first to promise us delivery drones, but behind the scenes Google has been developing its own alternative for years. The company unveiled Project Wing this week with a short video alongside a longer article from The Atlantic that takes a deep dive into the work Google’s done over the past two years to get its drones off the ground.
The project comes from Google X (of course), the moonshot factory where the search giant works to develop far out ideas like driverless cars and Google Glass. The company has been testing its delivery drones in Australia, presumably because it’s still not legal to do it here in the U.S. despite Amazon’s best efforts to change the government’s position.
That’s not a huge issue for Google. The company says Project Wing is still years away from an official launch, though Google X moonshots captain Astro Teller notes it might not take as long as you might expect. “Working together we can get to this future, I think, surprisingly quickly,” he says in the short video.
The drones themselves appear to be a lot less intimidating than Amazon’s bug-like robots. Instead, Google’s design looks more like an airplane, though the drones take off facing straight into the air like a spaceship before quickly leveling out to a horizontal position. As for the delivery itself, the drones don’t actually land like Amazon’s, instead lowering a small box to the ground from above using a long string while it hovers in the air.
According to Google, these drones will eventually be able to fly your order across a city in just a few minutes, easily outrunning even the fastest delivery services currently available. Unfortunately, it could be a while before either Project Wing or Amazon’s Prime Air gets an official launch, but it looks like drone delivery may not be as far off as we thought.