You don’t hear as much about Google’s (now Alphabet X’s) Project Wing as you do about Amazon’s Prime Air drones, but the flying-delivery project is still aiming to go commercial.
That’s the word from The Wall Street Journal, which delves into the trials and tribulations of Project Wing in a report published this week.
X is reportedly planning to create an online exchange called Wing Marketplace, which would let customers order food and other goods and have them delivered within minutes via drone for a $6 fee.
The inside look at Wing Marketplace is based on interviews with former X employees, and none of the companies involved was willing to comment.
Among the retailers who are said to have been contacted: Whole Foods Market, Domino’s Pizza and Starbucks. Starbucks declined to sign on, reportedly because of concerns over “X’s control of the user experience.”
One test, in September, involved ferrying Chipotle burritos a few hundred feet over a closed field to staff and students from Virginia Tech.
But Project Wing isn’t running smoothly. Alphabet is pulling back on the project due to tightening budgets, and some key employees have taken flight, as Bloomberg News reported a month ago. Plans to conduct flight tests in Ireland have been put on hold.
Meanwhile, Amazon is upbeat about its drone tests in England and elsewhere. A startup named Flirtey is touting its drone deliveries (including Domino’s Pizza in New Zealand). And Zipline’s fixed-wing drones are dropping off medical supplies in Rwanda.
Will Project Wing keep up in the commercial drone race? For now, this is one competition where the Google juggernaut appears to be losing altitude. Check out the full report from The Wall Street Journal.