There’s a new drone app ready for you to download on your phone — and it’s made by Google.
Wing, which is primarily viewed as the drone delivery arm of Alphabet (the company formerly known as Google), this week released its OpenSky app for Apple iOS and Android devices.
But the company is also working in drone traffic management, and one of their first, public-facing steps is a consumer-facing app called OpenSky. The OpenSky app is designed for anyone (hobbyist or commercial operator) who flies drones in Australia to help them manage their flights.
Here’s how it works:
1. A drone flyer enters their flight location in the app, as well as what type of drone operator you are: either recreational, commercial (flying drones commercially less than 2kg) or ReOC (flying drones commercially with an operator certificate issued by CASA).
2. The app spits out a checklist of factors including airspace restrictions, known hazardous situations, and proximity to airports and heliports.
3. From there, drone operators can receive alerts related to emergency response situations, nearby sporting events, or other situations that may impact available airspace.
The app itself is pretty basic, but Project Wing added that the app would be “the first in what will be a range of OpenSky products.”
Project Wing worked closely with the Australian government to design the app, which is approved by the Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). In fact, Wing is currently developing another set of tools for CASA to communicate with drone flyers.
Aside from airspace management, Project Wing has been making many other strides in Australia — particularly when it comes to food delivery via drone. Wing Aviation said that, as of April 2019, it had already had done conducted over 70,000 test flights, and more than 3,000 deliveries to doorsteps, driveways and backyards in Australia. Its deliveries have included (or currently include) items from popular Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez, pharmacy Chemist Warehouse, Canberra chocolatier Jasper + Myrtle, and donut store Krofne.
But Wing is also working to develop its systems in the U.S. The company is part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management Pilot Program , and is one of just a handful of approved LAANC providers. Just this past April, the FAA approved Wing to conduct drone deliveries as a Certified Air Carrier in the U.S. (Wing is the first company to receive such a certification). That certification means Wing can begin commercial package delivery in Blacksburg, VA as part of the partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Virginia Tech, as one of the participants in the Transportation Department’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.
Google had also conducted drone delivery tests in the U.S. in the past, though audiences weren’t exactly impressed with all of it. Students at Virginia Tech participated in Chipotle burrito delivery trials, where they were loaded on a bus to the test site — a large hill. Burritos were delivered between the bottom and the top of the hill via drone. Wing said it expects to launch its latest set of delivery trials in Virginia later this year.
The Project Wing OpenSky app is available as a free download on both the Google Play and Apple App stores. There is also a desktop version of OpenSky.