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The Drones Are Coming! How Amazon, Alphabet, Uber Are Taking to the Skies


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The type of drone Amazon uses for aerial deliveries.

Companies including Amazon, Alphabet's Wing, and Uber, are launching more advanced trials of drone delivery.

Credit: Amazon

Companies including Amazon, Alphabet's Wing, and Uber, are launching more advanced trials of drone delivery.

Wing started tests in Christiansburg, VA, this month, while Uber will set up experiments in San Diego before the end of the year. Amazon said last June it would begin delivering packages to consumers via drone "within months."

The companies have to overcome a number of obstructions and concerns before drone delivery can become widespread.

Amazon uses machine learning algorithms and infrared sensors to detect obstacles like birds and wires, and programs its drones with scenarios (such as when a delivery location cannot be detected), and commands to follow in such scenarios.

Wing, meanwhile, has tested its drone north of Helsinki under snowy and windy conditions; its drone has built-in wind sensors and is waterproof.

A challenge that remains is that no standard exists on how drones can identify and communicate with each other while in flight, so drone delivery by multiple companies in the same area is not currently possible.

From The Wall Street Journal
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