Wing Really Taking Off

Wing, the Alphabet subsidiary focused on drone delivery, is really taking off. It’s drone delivery service is adding vendors and new items as it’s customer base dramatically grows.

Wing drones are delivering food, medicine and household goods during the coronavirus pandemic. The service is offered in a limited number of places (Virginia, Finland, and Australia) and has partnered with local shops for deliveries. Although limited by the amount of weight the drone can carry, they have expanded their options to include items like pasta, baby food, and bread among others.

Wing said it’s seeing customers in the US order health and wellness items from Walgreens, including medicine, toothpaste and toilet paper, and groceries like pasta, canned foods, fruit cups and baby food.


“We’re trying to support local businesses that aren’t able to open their doors by allowing them to deliver their products directly to customers’ homes,” Wing said. It pointed to a local bakery in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is now selling 50% more pastries via Wing on one weekend than it usually sells in store.

Source: cnet

Will this be the push to make autonomous vehicles and drones commonplace?

”No one could have predicted coronavirus, but even we were surprised at the uptake of customers when ‘shelter in place’ came into Virginia,” Wing’s head of marketing and communications, Alexa Dennett, told Business Insider, “It’s really early days so it’s hard to know how coronavirus will shape our business’s strategy… Ultimately we would love many more households around the US and the world to have access to our technology.” Dennett declined to comment further on the company’s expansion plans.

Source: The Verge

Why it’s hot: Social distancing has increased demand for delivery, but this type of work exposes workers to COVID-19. Pushing the limits of contactless delivery can be the sure fire proof of concept many of these services have been waiting for.

The AI Drone Crocodile Hunter

Last summer, Australia began testing drones at their beaches to help spot distressed swimmers – acting as overhead lifeguards. Now the same company that created that technology, Ripper Group, is creating an algorithm for their drones to spot crocodiles.

While not frequent, crocodile attacks have gone up in recent years. And crocodiles are not easily identified when they spend up to 45 minutes under murky water. So the Ripper Group is using machine learning to train drones to distinguish crocodiles from 16 other marine animals, boats, and humans through a large database of images.

The drones also include warning sirens and flotation devices for up to four people, to assist in emergency rescue when danger is spotted.

Why It’s Hot

Lifeguards are limited in what they can see and how quickly they can act. With the assistance of drones, beach goers can stay carefree.


The Closest Drone to Bike Delivery is Here

The newest entrant into the drone food delivery space is using slower speed to gain a competitive edge. The Rev-1 by Refraction AI is unique in that operating at a max of 15 miles per hour, it can travel both on the road and in bike lanes–giving it more flexibility to avoid causing traffic. The company’s vision is for the drone to emulate the patterns of a cyclist.

The vehicle is currently being tested in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it delivers food from local restaurants in a range of .5 to 2.5 miles. It’s 6 cubic feet of space is enough to hold around four grocery bags.

Another competitive advantage is the Rev-1’s lower cost of $5,000. Instead of using lidar sensors like most other drones, it uses multiple cameras in combination with ultrasound to see and navigate.

Why It’s Hot

The smaller, slower drone is well-positioned for local deliveries, with a high potential to help solve the last-mile delivery challenge in a cost-efficient manner.


Uber is Ready to Make Drone Food Delivery a Reality

Uber Elevate is betting on drones as the future of food delivery. And the future is coming as soon as this summer, with drone service set to launch in San Diego.

relates to Uber Wants Your Next Big Mac to Be Delivered by Drone

At the launch of the program, drones will not be delivering food directly to customer’s homes due to safety and noise concerns. Instead they’ll be landing in designated zones for pick up by couriers, or directly on the roofs of Uber vehicles, for drivers to complete the delivery.

Reaching speeds up to 70 mph, Uber Elevate’s drone can lead to significant time and cost savings in a food delivery market that is projected to grow 12% a year over the next four years. For a delivery 1.5 miles away, drones can make a trip in 7 minutes as opposed to 21 minutes via car.

Why It’s Hot

As more and more companies are looking to make use of drones as soon as possible, it’s significant that a car service company is leading the way. Beyond revolutionizing food delivery, Uber Elevate can help pave the way for how drones can solve other problems including last-mile delivery.


Coffee Delivery Drones Could Be Coming to Offices Soon

IBM has dreamed up the ultimate boost to employee productivity: drones that deliver coffee to people’s desks. They’ve filed a patent for technology that can identify the “cognitive state” of office workers to detect when a cup of coffee is needed.

IBM patent coffee delivery drone

The patent describes how the drones may be able to detect blood pressure, pupil dilation, and facial expressions that indicate a person is drowsy. The technology will also store individual preferences like what type of coffee they enjoy or whether or not they take sugar.

There are multiple ways in which coffee delivery can work: one option is to have coffee poured directly into a person’s mug, while another delivers coffee in a sealed bag. People can also summon coffee with a hand gesture.

Why It’s Hot

While it’s unclear whether IBM will actually build this coffee delivery system and how soon it could come to life, the technology has the potential to completely overhaul the office coffee break.

Source: Popular Mechanics


gesture control comes to amazon drones…

Amazon has been testing drones for 30 minute or less deliveries for a couple of years now. We’ve seen their patents for other drone-related ideas, but the latest is one describing drones that would respond to both gestures and commands. In effect, they’re trying to make the drones more than sentient technological vessels, and more human-friendly, so if the drone is headed toward the wrong spot you could wave your hands to indicate its error, or tell it where to set your item down for final delivery. As described in the source article:

Depending on a person’s gestures — a welcoming thumbs-up, shouting or frantic arm waving — the drone can adjust its behavior, according to the patent. As described in the patent, the machine could release the package it’s carrying, change its flight path to avoid crashing, ask humans a question or abort the delivery.

Among several illustrations in the design, a person is shown outside a home, flapping his arms in what Amazon describes as an “unwelcoming manner,” to showcase an example of someone shooing away a drone flying overhead. A voice bubble comes out of the man’s mouth, depicting possible voice commands to the incoming machine.

“The human recipient and/or the other humans can communicate with the vehicle using human gestures to aid the vehicle along its path to the delivery location,” Amazon’s patent states.”

Why it’s hot:

This adds a new layer to the basic idea of small aerial robots dropping items you order out of the air. The more they can humanize the robots, the more they mimic actually deliverymen. And given the feedback we have seen on social about Amazon’s own human delivery service, this could be a major improvement.


KFC is making chickens fly again

KFC has turned its box o’ chicken into a drone, which it is calling a KFO — Kentucky Flying Object. The promotion is in celebration of the new smokey grilled wings.

The clever packaging is only available in India today and tomorrow.

The drone is controlled via an app available on iPhone or Android.

Story on Geek

Why it’s Hot
KFC has been known to periodically release these types of interactive, tongue in cheek promotional items. Anything to distract customers from the taste of the “food.”

LAPD Gets Green Light For a Drone Pilot Program

The LAPD got the go-ahead this week from a civilian oversight panel to roll out a year-long drone pilot program. The panel voted 3-1 on this contentious issue, and the city is set to start using two drones within the next 30 days. The LAPD is the nation’s largest police force, so the implications for this development are huge.

Advocates for the drone program say it will protect officers and civilians by using drones instead of humans to gather crucial information in dangerous situations (active shooters, hostage situations, search & rescue missions, etc). The pilot program comes with strict rules on when the drones may be used – only with SWAT team members in the aforementioned dangerous situations – and every flight must be approved, documented, and reviewed. There’s a ban on facial recognition software and drone-operated weapons, and the Police Commission with publish quarterly reports on all drone activity.

Even with these restrictions in place, the program is facing heavy criticism from the public, as well as civil liberty and privacy organizations (the ACLU of Southern California and the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition sent letters to the LAPD urging them to kill the pilot program). The outcry all comes down to one thing: Trust. The LAPD has a contentious history with regard to technology implementation, most prominently in its rollout of body cameras without a policy in place to release the footage to the public. Jim Lafferty, the executive director emeritus of the National Lawyers Guild Los Angeles, says:

“Mission creep is of course the concern. . . . The history of this department is of starting off with supposedly good intentions about the new toys that it gets . . . only to then get too tempted by what they can do with those toys.”

Los Angeles isn’t the first city to attempt to use drones as a part of their police forces – and this isn’t even the first time the LAPD has tried to use drones. Seattle tried to start up a police drone program in 2013, but after heavy criticism from the public, the city killed the program and sent their drones to Los Angeles. The public outcry followed the drones to LA, and the LAPD also grounded and ultimately destroyed the drones without ever using them.

So why, a few years later, are they reviving and pushing forward with this program? Charlie Beck, the LAPD police chief, said at the panel vote meeting that more agencies are using drones, and there’s a “much more robust feedback mechanism” in place now. Time will tell whether these factors have any influence on keeping the drone program within their stated bounds.

Why it’s hot (and/or terrifying, depending on your view): The LAPD is the nation’s largest police force, and the outcomes of this pilot program will have a significant impact on future developments in unmanned civilian surveillance by our own government.

LA Times | Engadget

Drones, Drones Everywhere.

While not launching until May 2018, the IndieGogo-funded underwater drone from iBubble has reached the latest phase in its working prototypes, called “Beluga.”

Why It Is Hot?

A. This is yet another testament to the power and longevity of a well-pitched crowd-funded innovation. Even in prototype, iBubble has landed distributors worldwide.
B. When Global Warming melts the Polar Ice Caps, it’s nice to know we’ll still be able to watch each other (and have our packages delivered) by underwater drone.

ground control to major drone

We’ve all seen, or heard the stories in which a brand is “testing” the delivery capability of drones (e.g. UPS, Amazon, Domino’s, etc.).  In many of these cases, the drone is piloted by a person – but that won’t be cost-efficient if drone delivery is to become a larger practice.

In reality, these drones would need to be flying autonomously – and that means there needs to be a way to keep track of them.  Think of it as air-traffic control for drones, and that is one step closer to becoming reality with today’s news in Recode.

AirMap, a company that provides airspace services platforms, announced $26 million in a new round of investor funding.  AirMap’s platform is already being used by hundreds of customers and has tracked millions(!) of drone flights.

We’re still several years away from drones becoming a bigger part of our airspace, but it’s clear in the work of companies like AirMap that the future will be here in very short order.


  • Well, it’d be cool to order a TV and have it delivered by a drone (soon, but not now)
  • This could – dare I say – disrupt package delivery as we know it (think USPS)
  • Delivery may no longer be a binary choice (home, or office)

This Machine Shoots Drones Out of the Sky

A British company named OpenWorks Engineering has created a smart weapon that shoots down and captures those pesky drones flying around and invading everyone’s privacy.

The system relies on a “laser-powered ‘SmartScope,’ which allows the gun’s on-board computer to calculate exactly the right moment to fire the projectile” so that it doesn’t miss the drone and hit your neighbor’s window instead.

Story on ArsTechnica

Why It’s Hot

Drones present opportunities for delivery of things and exploration of places that had never been possible before. Unfortunately, there are risks to mis-use of drones which has created a market for a potential solution.

Man caught sunbathing atop of wind turbine

You know privacy is taking a back seat to technology when you can’t sunbathe on top of a wind turbine without being discovered. Kevin Miller, vacationing in Rhode Island, was taking his drone for a spin in the countryside when he maneuvered it to the top of a 200-foot tall wind turbine. Hoping to capture some cool sights of the turbine against the blue sky, the drone instead spied upon a man sunning himself. The man took it all in good stride, sitting up and waving to the drone.

Why It’s Hot

Privacy is becoming a quaint notion, going the way of bygone eras like the horse and buggy, handwritten notes and family dinner time.  Soon there will be nowhere to hide, with drones everywhere, street cameras watching every move, and smartphones tracking our every movement.  Creepy perhaps, but it seems like it’s becoming more accepted in society.  Now you can’t even sunbathe on a wind turbine.

Periscope Into GE This Week…


GE used a combination of drones and Periscope this week to give people an inside look at some of the different technology projects it’s currently into (they appropriately called it #DroneWeek). The company used both its main account (@GeneralElectric), and also a dedicated account (@GEDronePilot) to broadcast the video, provide commentary from the brightest GE minds to help people understand what they were seeing, and interact with viewers to answer any questions they had.

Why It’s Hot

For most people, what GE actually does is probably a little esoteric. Technology, yes, but what exactly? By using Periscope (and drones), they were able to literally give people a better picture, while doing it in a way that also used the execution to convey the message – it’s innovative technology. Plus, they were targeting a millennial audience, whose interest they hope to divert from companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, to want to come work for them instead. A simple showcasing of what they are doing, in order to “inspire [their target] to participate in things that really matter”.

“Dronies” Are the New Selfies

Smile for the drone camera!

A U.K.-based firm is building a self-flying micro-drone called Zano, with which athletes can capture photos and HD videos of themselves doing fun stunts or other hard-to-snap moments and, of course, the everyday selfie-taker can be free from having their extended arm dominate every photo.


While Zano does not require constant external guidance and control from the user, it will link to a mobile app by which users can tell the device to stay put in one position or to move around for a different angle. The nano-drone is still in development backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign and the company is planning for lift off next summer.

Via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: The possibilities are endless. Drones are all the rage, from security to commercial use (Amazon Prime Air, anyone?) and for private, recreational purposes. With technology constantly advancing and our desire to capture and share every moment of our lives building, the idea of programming a drone to snap “dronies” isn’t much of a surprise. Selfies have become a part of our modern culture, and soon, instead of having to rely on a friend or asking a stranger, people will be able to position a drone via their smartphone to snap themselves in a new way.

Apart from taking “dronies,” self-flying camera drones can be used for a host of other purposes. We’ll just have to stay tuned to see where the drones soar from here.

Drones Deliver Coke to Workers Building Singapore Skyscrapers

A few weeks back, drones buzzed up to high-rises under construction in Singapore and dropped off cans of Coke to the migrant workers building the towers. Tucked into the care packages were 2,734 messages from Singaporeans thanking the tradesmen for their hard work.  The idea was to link two communities that don’t often come into contact – Singaporean nationals and the migrant workers who travel far from their countries to build the city-state’s apartment buildings, offices and schools.  Ogilvy & Mather Singapore and a non-profit, the Singapore Kindness Movement, worked with Coca-Cola on the project, dubbed “Happiness From the Skies.”

Coke drone

Coca-Cola photo

It’s part of Coke’s international campaign called “Where Will Happiness Strike Next?”, bringing the brand theme of happiness to places that could use some cheer. (Another Singaporean example from the campaign was a vending machine set up for stressed-out college students during exams — it dispensed Cokes if you hugged it.)

Ogilvy homed in on the idea of using drones to reach migrant workers at building sites. Coming from places including India, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar, guest workers make up about a third of the workforce in Singapore, known for its rapid development and high standard of living. The influx of foreign low-wage workers has brought societal tensions and divisions.

Some of Coke’s most memorable viral videos in recent years have come from Asia: The brand sent overseas Filipino migrant workers home to their families for Christmas (a real tear-jerker), and it used a cross-border game involving vending machines to connect people in India and Pakistan

Why it is hot:

Coke is increasingly looking at what cultural role our brands can play, rather than what communication message Coke can deliver.  Initiatives like this increase the social relevance of Coca Cola in service of bringing happiness to the world.

Facebook Will Use Drones & Lasers to ‘Beam’ Internet to the World

Facebook plans to use drones, satellites and lasers to deliver Internet to the world.
After announcing last year, an initiative to improve Internet access across the globe, Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the Connectivity Lab, a new team of scientists that has been working on the ambitious project. He said that the Connectivity Lab would develop “new platforms for connectivity on the ground, in the air and in orbit,” according to a post on on Thursday.drone-facebook

Why It’s Hot

This gives the world the opportunity to tap into a wealth of resources that we are used to, but others may not be.  This could help troops that are in 3rd world countries get access to internet access… maybe even skyping in doctors.  Or, just checking email in a place that has never seen it before.

Facebook Reportedly Wants to Use Drones to Actually Make Web Worldwide

Facebook is reportedly in talks to buy a drone company that could be used to bring Internet to areas of the world that currently have no access. As one of the founding members of, Facebook has interest in making the Internet accessible across the planet, especially the two-thirds that are not connected.

Main Entry Image

Why It’s Hot

Whether you agree with Mark Zuckerberg that “everyone deserves to be … on the Internet,” or you believe in the power of connection through innovation, providing Internet access to the globe has endless advantages. This would enable millions to be educated and research virtually anything – from simple mathematics to disease prevention, and from other cultures to advanced history and geography. Seeing as smartphone penetration is already increasing, meaning people would have devices to employ that access, this effort could be the single-greatest philanthropy for Facebook’s billions to rally behind.