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Alphabet brings burritos-by-drone delivery to Australia

The Project Wing team has been busy helping fill the bellies of people living in rural Australia.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
October 17, 2017
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Apparently, Project Wing brought airborne burritos to Virginia Tech last year as preparation for something bigger. Alphabet X's experimental project is now dropping burritos (and medicine) from the skies of Australia as part of a series of tests to figure out how to run a drone delivery service efficiently. Project Wing Co-Lead James Ryan Burgess said they've teamed up with Australia Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez and pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse to drop off orders to testers living in a rural area. These testers usually have to take a 40-minute round trip by car to get to the nearest grocery or restaurant, making them the perfect subjects for Wing's experiments.

Project Wing has to conduct these tests, because while it has a system that can pre-configure routes, its drones rely on on-board sensors to avoid obstacles. The more tests the sensors go through, the better they become at protecting the UAVs from collision. Of course, the drones don't have tall buildings to look out for in a rural setting, but baby steps are a must.

Burgess said dropping off burritos will help them fine tune the logistics of getting food to customers while it's still hot. It'll also help them figure out how much time to give restos to cook, pack and load food. Delivering over-the-counter meds, vitamins and other items you can buy from drugstores, on the other hand, will help them conjure up the perfect way to pack different items and to optimize how many items can be delivered per flight.

He explained:

"The information we gather from both of these test partners will help us build a system so that merchants of all kinds can focus on what they're good at  -- like making food or helping people feel healthier  --  rather than being distracted by complex delivery logistics."

Going by what he said, Project Wing most likely intends to conduct more tests... hopefully, in other parts of the globe, so more people can experience the thrill of waiting for airborne burritos.

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