Google Wing is delivering library books to kids by drone

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Wing deliveries up amid coronavirus pandemic.
Image: YouTube | Wing

Although it might have sounded crazy just a few years ago, the idea of delivering packages by drone is quickly catching on. Companies like CVS are pairing up with the winged divisions of logistics firms like UPS to deliver vital prescriptions to elderly patients with minimal contact.

Now, Google is preparing to start airdropping library books to children in Virginia through its Wing subsidiary. The company will help ease the boredom of a summer in quarantine by delivering books via drone. It’s a perfect initiative that does good for the community while allowing Google to continue developing its drone delivery program.

Look Up

Most kids enjoy being off school in the summer. However, that time away also brings unique challenges to many families across the United States. For school librarians, it can be a nightmare. Trying to keep a book in the hands of countless students who might not otherwise have access is a big issue.

Kelly Passek, a Montgomery County Public Schools middle-school librarian knows all about that. In an interview with The Washington Post she said, “I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone.”

Students in the Christiansburg, Virginia area will be the first to experience Google’s Wing drone deliveries. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because Christiansburg is quickly becoming synonymous with drone delivery tests. Wing partnered with FedEx and Walgreens to deliver medications and other items to customers in the area last October. It has continued the pilot program throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, more than 600 students who live within Google’s delivery area can benefit from the library book delivery service.

For many students, libraries are the only way to get books. Now that almost all of them are closed due to COVID-19, ensuring access is more difficult than ever. Simply purchasing books or buying an e-reader isn’t an option for many families. That’s where Google’s delivery program comes in.

Special Request

As of now, Google hasn’t said how frequently it plans to deliver books to students in the Christiansburg area. It is making its first round of deliveries this week. However, it appears that the program won’t be a one-hit-wonder.

Passek is currently taking book requests from students via Google Forms before scouring the district’s libraries, collecting them, and dropping them off at Wing’s facility. It certainly isn’t a perfect process, but it’s one that is doing great things for students.

Thanks to the work of Passek and Wing, students will be able to enjoy their summer reading without leaving home. Better yet, those who receive books won’t need to return them until school is back in session this fall.

As for Google’s Wing subsidiary, the program is noteworthy. It provides extremely valuable real-world airtime for the company’s fleet of drones. That will allow it to continue troubleshooting and upgrading its services.

Wing has come a long way since flying its first test flight in 2014. With continued test programs, it could be well on its way to commercial deliveries within the next few years.

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