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Google hopes to deliver packages by drone in 2017

Published: November 6, 2015

We’ve all heard of companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart that want to use drones as part of their delivery service. Now it seems Google shares the same aspirations.

Recently placed under the management of the conglomerate Alphabet, Google already has a drone delivery research division called Project Wing. On Nov. 1, division head David Vos spoke to a crowd at an air traffic control conference outside Washington. According to him, Google plans to own drones capable of delivering packages in the next few years. “Our goal is to have commercial business up and running in 2017,” Vos said.

Project Wing was announced in August 2014 in a YouTube video showing a field test of a 2.6-by-4.9-foot test drone. No information has been released on what kind of vehicles Google would use in its future delivery system.

Although several companies are working toward incorporating delivery drones, no plans can move forward until after the Federal Aviation Administration publishes final rules for commercial drone operations, which are expected in early 2016.

Vos said Google would like to see low-altitude Class G airspace carved out for drones, saying it would keep them away from most other aircraft while enabling them to fly over highly populated areas.

In the meantime, Google is talking with the FAA about setting up an air traffic control system for drones that would use cellular and Internet technology to coordinate the aircraft at altitudes of less than 500 feet