Google (GOOG) is one company which has left no stone unturned in the tech domain. From search engine to automated cars to smartphones Google has its fingers dipped in all the pies. After exploring all the niche sectors with its technology, it has now stepped into a new area of logistics for ecommerce. Currently Amazon (AMZN) the leader of ecommerce might have to see tough competition against Google’s drone logistic technology. Google’s secretive research laboratory is trying to build a fleet of drones designed to bypass earthbound traffic so packages can be delivered to people more quickly.
The ambitious program announced on Thursday escalates Google’s technological arms race with rival Amazon, which also is experimenting with self-flying vehicles to carry merchandise bought by customers of its online store. Let us take a look at the technology face-off between the two giants.
Drones to Deliver in Ecommerce
Amazon for quite some time has been into a combat with Google and Apple (AAPL) in the tech front from online video to digital advertising to mobile computing. And now Google and Amazon enters the battle zone with their foray into drones called ‘Project Wing’.
Google’s drone technology is at its nascent stage and will take several more years before its fleet of drones is fully operational, the company says test flights in Australia delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats and water to two farmers after traveling a distance of roughly one kilometer, or just over a half mile, two weeks ago.
But even after perfecting their aerial technology, Google and Amazon would still need to get government approval to fly commercial drones in many countries, including the US. Amazon last month asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to expand its drone testing. The FAA currently allows hobbyists and model aircraft makers to fly drones, but commercial use of drones or any aerial technology is still banned.
Project Wing is the latest egg to hatch out of Google’s “X” lab, which has also been working on self-driving cars as well as other far-flung innovations that company CEO Larry Page takes a close interest in and looks forward to widen the reach of technology in human life. The lab’s other handiwork includes Internet-connected eyewear called Google Glass, Internet-beaming balloons called Project Loon and a high-tech contact lens that monitors glucose levels in diabetics.
According to Google, X lab’s researches are focused towards improving the standard of human life and making technology more accessible to the human society, but the Glass device has faced some major back lash from privacy watchdogs leery for the product’s ability to secretly record video and take pictures. Investors also have periodically expressed frustration with the amount of money that Google has been pouring into the X lab without any guarantee the products will ever pay off.
Google’s Drone Map
A team headed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor Nick Roy already has already devoted two years working on Project Wing, Google stated. The Mountain View, California, company though did not let out the financial equations of the project.
Google provides same day delivery service through roadway communication in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and New York. If the Drone technology project succeeds it would benefit Google greatly and boost its same day delivery service and help Google expand an existing service that delivers goods purchased online on the day that they were ordered.
“Self-flying vehicles could open up entirely new approaches to moving goods, including options that are cheaper, faster, less wasteful and more environmentally sensitive than what’s possible today,” Google said in a press release outlining Project Wing.
Google feels that the prospect of Project Wing lies much beyond a logistic support system in ecommerce. The aerial vehicles also could make it easier for people to share certain items, such as a power drill, that they may only need periodically and carry emergency supplies to areas damaged by earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural catastrophes. The drone technology is certainly a noble idea in the field of tech innovations, but the major challenge lies in the actual viability of the project in practicality and the amount of investment it would entice against its probable yield post completion. Another major roadblock it might hit is clearance from government in almost all countries across the globe considering the national security aspect. If successful this project might work miracles for the company but on the flip side if it fails to meet expectations as envisaged it might wreck havocs on the tech giants financial equations and cause embarrassment towards investors. For now it would be best to wait and watch how the whole project pan out with time before taking any investment call based on the Project Wing.