Google X, the secret tech-research division of Google, is developing and testing a series of autonomous aerial vehicles (better known as “drones”), with the stated hope of eventually using them to make deliveries in places conventional vehicles can't reach.
Google X's “Project Wing” has been successfully tested in remote farm regions of Queensland, Australia; BBC News said the project was originally conceived as a way to deliver defibrillators to heart-attack victims more quickly than regular ambulances could.
Google also says the drones could be used to deliver small, lightweight items, such as batteries or medicines, to disaster-stricken areas land-based vehicles won't be able to reach.
Of course, Google is hardly the first private company to experiment with delivery drones; last year Domino's announced it had developed a drone capable of delivering pizzas, and this year Amazon started testing drones it hopes can one day deliver items to customers' homes.
Of course, none of this means you'll see delivery drones flying to American suburbs anytime soon. FAA regulations currently ban most commercial drone use although, as the Wall Street Journal noted, “The Federal Aviation Administration is considering regulations to change that and in June approved the first commercial drone flight over land — for energy giant BP in Alaska.”
Then again, the fact that the FAA would allow an oil company to fly a single exploratory drone over some remote Alaskan wilderness doesn't necessarily mean it will change its mind about the prospect of however-many delivery drones regularly flying through heavily populated commercial or residential areas.
Last June, Amazon formally asked the FAA for permission to test its drones in American airspace, saying it hoped to one day offer 30-minute order delivery (at last in certain areas). Of course, as the Journal said, “Amazon has acknowledged that regulatory approval could take several years.”