Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has recently unveiled its ‘aircraft library’ comprising differently-sized drones for the range of packages it plans to autonomously deliver.
As the company’s CEO Adam Woodworth points out, on-demand delivery à la Amazon Prime or DoorDash always requires a variety of vehicles to operate, as what’s used to move a ton of gravel would differ greatly from one moving a gallon of milk.
According to Interesting Engineering, the heaviest load that can be currently carried by a drone stands at a measly 6 lbs, preventing delivery firms from taking on large orders with their fleets. Though despite this, Wing reported reaching 100,000 deliveries in August 2021.
Image via Wing
When it comes to the firm’s fleet, each plane will be loaded with payloads up to 25% of it mass, which, surprisingly, is a significant upgrade on cars—the carriers of most of today’s deliveries—which typically only carry goods less than 0.1% of its overall mass.
Woodworth reveals that the company’s drone designs were inspired by common avionics, propulsion system elements, and materials; allowing the firm’s engineers to come up with different aircraft configurations tailored specifically to the goods they’re meant to deliver, such as food, medicine, or other items.
Image via Wing
“These efforts focus on solving the hard problems first, prototyping the design for later use. In some cases we’re addressing a particular challenging aerodynamics riddle, and in others a packaging puzzle of how to integrate a big box into a not-so-big plane,” he explains.
“Since these concept designs are intended to leverage the core elements from our operational system, we can focus the new design work on a shorter list of new and unique tasks, knowing that the brain of the system remains the same.”
As per Wing, the end goal would be to come up with an array of aircraft, including tiny planes for pharmaceutical delivery, big planes for shipping fulfillment, long-range aircraft for logistic flights, and even dedicated hovering platforms for deliveries in populated cities.