Honey, the Google drone's at the door -- or so one might say in 2017.
Google, which hopes to completely upend consumer deliveries via drone, expects to begin delivering packages to customers by unmanned aircraft sometime in the next two years, an executive said on Monday.
"Our goal is to have commercial business up and running in 2017," David Vos, the project lead for Google's Project Wing, told an audience at an air traffic control convention outside Washington.
In August of last year, the company officially announced that it was testing delivery drones in Queensland, Australia, after The Atlantic published a report outlining the secretive program. A glimpse of one of the drones in action made its way onto the Web in late October when a venture capitalist tweeted a short video from a Google event in Arizona.
Google, Amazon and Walmart are among a host of companies intent on filling the skies with package-toting drones. The FAA is currently in the process of defining formal regulations around the use of drones for commercial purposes in U.S. airspace. The agency has also convened a task force to draft proposed regulations for registration of unmanned aerial systems.
Vos, who is co-chair of that FAA task force, said a system for identifying drone operators and keeping UAVs away from other aircraft could be set up within 12 months. Vos said a drone registry, which the Obama administration hopes to set in place by Dec. 20, would be a first step toward a system that could use wireless telecommunications and Internet technology including cellphone applications to identify drones and keep UAVs clear of other aircraft and controlled airspace.
He said Google would like to see low-altitude "Class G" airspace carved out for drones, saying it would keep UAVs away from most manned aircraft aside from low-flying helicopters, while enabling drones to fly over highly populated areas.