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It’s hard to know who’s competing with whom these days – and this week, the news seems to revolve around the growing rivalry between Google and Amazon. Late yesterday, Google officially announced Project Wing, a drone delivery venture that looks like it could rival Amazon’s own plans for Amazon Prime Air deliveries.

The full story unfolds in a piece published by the Atlantic. Over the course of two years, Project Wing has developed an aircraft that’s capable of vertical takeoff and stationary hovering, as well as directed flight more akin to that of an airplane or glider. Packages delivered to recipients are lowered via winch, and then the craft takes off again. Currently, Project Wing is being tested in Australia. As you may recall, the FAA in the United States has banned the commercial use of autonomous drones.

For now, though, Project Wing is mostly in the exploration phase, with no actual product applications worked out just yet. That’s because the project is being handled by Google(X), the division of Google responsible for the company’s “moonshot” ideas. Those include the self-driving car and smart contact lenses – though, both of those ideas are starting to move towards actual real-world uses, with the former being tested more regularly throughout California, and the latter becoming a product with business partner Alcon.

The motivation for Project Wing, according to Google(X) Lab Director Astro Teller, is altruistic:

“What excited us from the beginning was that if the right thing could find anybody just in the moment that they need it, the world might be radically better place.”

Interestingly, this reveal from Google may benefit Amazon in the long run. In July, Amazon petitioned the FAA for an exemption to allow them to test their delivery drones, saying it’d be good for the economy by opening up a new opportunities for engineers and R&D scientists. By jumping into this field, Google legitimizes Amazon’s own efforts.

Coincidentally, the rivalry between the two companies came into sharp contrast earlier this week, when Amazon purchased game streaming company Twitch for $970 million – a move that happened after Google reportedly dropped out due to anti-trust concerns.

With both Google and Amazon looking to start a drone delivery service, how long will the FAA keep the ban in place? What other companies will join the fray (looking at you, Samsung)? And am I the only one kind of creeped out by the idea of big companies sending self-flying robots into the skies to throw packages at us?

[Sources: The Atlantic, Google+]


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