NASA is not down with drones flying around town all willy-nilly and potentially electrocuting North West. The space agency is developing an air traffic control network near Moffat Field, California for unmanned aircrafts at 400 to 500 feet meant to put regulations in place. As the New York Times pointed out, this would “in effect be a separate air traffic control system for things that fly low to the ground.” Unlike a normal air traffic control room, where Billy Bob Thorntons make very stressful decisions, the drone traffic control will be fully automated.
The tech industry’s enthusiasm for building small delivery drones may be getting ahead of figuring out what to do with them. On Thursday, with much fanfare, Google revealed Project Wing, an experimental program out of the company’s long-term projects division, called Google X. In a video, Google showed a buzzing aircraft — half plane, half helicopter — using a 200-foot fishing line to drop dog treats to a farmer in Queensland, Australia. But for all the Tomorrowland wonder of a potential delivery-by-drone service, plenty of issues will be tricky to solve. Drone technology has not been thoroughly tested in populated areas, and commercial use of drones is not allowed in the United States. Even if it were, it is not clear that companies could make a profit using advanced, helicopter like vehicles to deliver dog food, toothpaste or whatever else a modern family might need. Still, dozens of companies have experimented with using drones for tasks like crop dusting and monitoring breaks in railroad tracks and oil pipelines. Late last year, Amazon revealed its own experimental delivery service, Prime Air, which it says could one day deliver packages to customers within a half-hour.