Google’s drone cargo project’s chief said that within a few years, it will be possible to make product deliveries by drone in urban areas, says a report from Bloomberg. However, it will be possible only if the U.S. government and the aviation industry reach an agreement to work cooperatively on the new technology, said the executive on Monday.
Google vs. Amazon in the drone delivery race
On Dec. 21, swift adoption of a registration system for small unmanned aircraft started with the intent of capturing holiday gift buying. It is a template for how the different aviation sectors can work together to speed approvals for deliveries, said the head of Google X’s Project Wing, Dave Vos.
Speaking to the Aero Club of Washington, a group that is comprised of members from the mostly traditional aviation industry, Vos said the company is making “huge progress.” Usage of drones for delivering small packages is a part of an upcoming revolution in the aviation industry owing to growing computer power and cheaper sensors, said Vos.
Google and Amazon are in competition to develop drones for delivering products. The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, is also developing similar drones, according to the announcement it made in October.
Issues that need to be resolved
Both the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and NASA are working on developing a low-level-air-traffic system to guide drones and prevent collisions in mid-air. Companies such as Google, Amazon and others are also working on air-traffic systems of their own. A handful of drone makers, industry advocates and retailers like Google have found a place in the FAA’s list of companies to help it in creating a registration system and rules.
There are a number of regulatory issues that need to be ironed out before these companies can begin making deliveries via drones. The first is that currently companies need to seek approval from the FAA on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, the current drone rules do not allow companies to fly drones at night. Also drone operators can fly just one drone at a time.
Such limitations have seen opposition from Amazon and drone industry groups, which argue that such rules are hurting the burgeoning U.S. drone industry. The FAA is responsible for regulating aviation expects to finalize rules for commercial drone operations later this year. The formal process of drafting rules for working out automated deliveries has not begun yet.