The secretive Google drone project will potentially involve a package sending system. A patent filed in the United States by Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, referred to a “delivery receptacle” and an “aerial delivery device”.
The idea is that infrared beacons on the receptacle would be used to guide drones in the air towards it. Upon receiving the package, the receptacle would take the package to a garage or other secure location.
This secretive project has been under wraps, but the filing of the patent is a sign of progress. The leader of the project, Dave Vos, claimed in a statement last November that the drone could start delivering packages by 2017.
The first mention of the initiative, coined ‘Project Wing’ came in 2014 with a YouTube video depicting a test in Australia. Tests in the US have taken place at NASA’s AMES Research Center.
Although the system may soon be ready, the regulations are not. The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to publish final regulations for commercial use of drones. Currently there are over 18,000 drones registered in the US alone.
Vos advocates for limiting the amount of regulations placed on drones. In a conference earlier this year, he said “I would advocate strongly that the need for additional regulation is very, very small. That in fact, if you allow people to do things and replicate what manned aviation pilots in this airspace do it already works.” He believes that the existing regulations are sufficient to cover even the more advanced uses of drones in a commercial setting.