Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, has unveiled a series of new prototype delivery drones designed to handle a variety of payloads. The company has developed a core set of hardware and software components that can be used to create a variety of different vehicles tailored for specific use cases: an aircraft library.
The drone designs draw from sets of common avionics, propulsion system elements, and materials. This allows the developers to rapidly evolve aircraft configurations from a proven foundation and tailor them to a broad range of uses, from delivery of food, medicine, and other goods, to supply chain optimization and emergency response.
“Just as the ideal vehicle for carrying a ton of gravel would be a dump truck rather than a sedan, the ideal aircraft to carry a bottle of medication is not the same as the best one to deliver a gallon of milk, and neither is suited to deliver a refrigerator,” Wing CEO Adam Woodworth wrote in a blog post.
Wing’s variety of different-sized drones includes a larger drone that can carry upward of seven pounds and a smaller drone designed to carry prescription medicine weighing up to 0.6 pounds. Its flagship drone is designed to handle payloads of up to 2.5 pounds. Wing said up to 90% of deliveries today are packages that weigh five pounds or less.
Since these concept designs are intended to leverage the core elements of Wing’s operational system, the company 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. Wing can have tiny planes for pharmaceutical delivery, big planes for shipping fulfillment, long-range aircraft for logistic flights, and dedicated hovering platforms for delivery in cities.
Aligned by a core set of capabilities – efficient flight, precision delivery, optimized airframes, and autonomous navigation – each of these designs is suited to a different use. These aircrafts represent a more efficient approach to multimodal delivery that is safer and more sustainable too.
In August 2021, Wing reached a 100,000 deliveries milestone, thanks to the popularity it found in Australia’s suburbs. Now, the company is bound to deliver many more payloads with its new variety of drones tackling a wide range of cargo.