Girl Scouts used drones to deliver their cookies to people’s doorsteps in a Virginia community. Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s corporate parent Alphabet, has added the iconic boxed cookie to the drugstore offerings, FedEx packages, and locally-made pastries, tacos, and cold brew coffees it has been delivering to thinly populated residential subdivisions since 2019.
According to Wing, the local Girl Scout troops were having a harder time selling cookies, a few people ventured out due to the pandemic. While the scouts grabbed the new idea with a twist to their skills-building mission.
Wing said it began talking to local Girl Scout troops because they’ve been having a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic when fewer people are out and about. The Scouts jumped on the new twist to its skills-building mission.
The move is certainly a welcome sign especially after the federal official rolled out the new rules in mid-April that allowed drone operators to fly over people and at night. This will give a boost to the commercial use of drones, though most of the drones will need to be identifiable by law enforcement officials.Wings will now compete with others like Amazon, Walmart, UPS, and others to overcome technical and who may come as a result of the technical and regulatory challenges of flying packages over neighborhoods.
David Vos, an aerospace engineer who led Google’s Wing project until 2016, thinks drone technology is getting closer to delivering the size, weight, and power needed to transport goods safely in populated places. He is surprised drone delivery ventures have not taken off more quickly.
He further added, “it needs to bring on people from the traditional aviation industry who have experience building “safety-critical systems” that meet strict performance standards.”
Wing’s drones are powered by two forward propellers and 12 small vertical propellers. It is able to navigate autonomously, while it hovers on reaching its destination above the front lawn as a tether releases to drop the package.
11-year-old Gracie Walker, of the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Troop 224 said “It was so smooth and it didn’t shake. They look like a helicopter but also a plane.”Earlier before the drones were deployed she would wear a mask and set up a cookie booth outside a home improvement store.
There is a difference of opinion when it comes to drone deliveries, some expressed privacy, safety, or nuisance concerns when asked to imagine the noisy machines over their homes. While Wing objected to some of FAA’s new drone regulations on privacy grounds, citing issues with the remote ID requirement as it may allow observers to snoop on the delivery routes online.
In a small survey conducted by researchers at nearby Virginia Tech, Wing helped them with the fund, the residents of Christiansburg are a happy bunch content with the drones.
Lee Vinsel, an assistant professor of science, technology, and society who conducted the Virginia Tech survey said “One of the reasons is because Virginia Tech is here and there’s an engineering culture of trying new things. And the suburban setup is easiest for drone delivery.”
He further added, “Manhattan would be tough.” as it is densely populated.
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