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Financial scrutiny reportedly puts Project Wing drone initiative in holding pattern

By Shawn Knight
Nov 9, 2016
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  1. Things have apparently gone from bad to worse for Alphabet’s Project Wing drone initiative in the wake of project leader Dave Vos’ departure last month.

    People familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg that since his departure, the X research lab has frozen hiring and even asked some staff to seek jobs elsewhere in the company as part of a larger initiative to curb spending and turn more experimental projects into real businesses.

    As the publication correctly highlights, the research unit initially wanted to use drones to deliver health-related items like heart defibrillators and medicine. Once those plans were nixed, the X lab looked to food and other perishable items.

    Just a couple of months ago, Project Wing teamed up with Chipotle Mexican Grill to experiment with delivering food on college campuses. The unit was also apparently in advanced stage talks with Starbucks but the deal eventually fell apart as the two sides couldn’t come to terms regarding access to customer data.

    Project Wing isn’t the only Alphabet division to come under financial scrutiny as of late. Roughly two weeks ago, Google pushed pause on plans to roll out fiber Internet service in new cities. Craig Barratt, CEO of Alphabet's Access division running Google Fiber, said its subscriber base and revenue are growing quickly. His explanation for the paused rollout? A shifting strategy.

    Drones may very well be the next big thing in technology but there are plenty of hurdles that must be overcome for that to become true – chief among them being regulatory hurdles. The US government has made progress in the area of commercial drone usage yet even still, some companies have turned to other countries where regulations are less restrictive to further develop and test their drones.

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  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 2,794   +1,533

    As with most emerging technologies, there are good and bad revelations to each. Worse yet, it takes considerably longer for laws to catch up so the limit of good and bad is limited only by the end users imagination ... and applications. Drones are no exception. We have seen exceptionally good uses for them from inspecting dangerous disaster areas unsafe for a person to explore, giving us a better viewpoint of news making situations, and more. We have also seen them used in invasions of personal privacy, trespass, and violations of our rights in ways we may not yet imagine.

    Thus is the process of the formation of laws to protect us. Damage must be done in order to determine how great it can be before protective laws can be developed and enacted and as part of that process, considerations to intent and liability must also be graded. Investors risk personal fortunes, developers risk personal reputations, and we all risk everything else until laws and regulations are developed.

    This is yet another price for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in a democracy. It's certainly not perfect, but from my travels over the decades I can attest, it certainly beats the alternatives.
  3. fktech

    fktech TS Addict Posts: 202   +53

    Can you say liability insurance?

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