Google is developing airborne drones capable of flying on their own and delivering anything from candy to medicine, the Internet company said on Thursday.
The effort, which Google calls Project Wing, marks the company's latest expansion beyond its Web-based origins and could help Google break into lucrative markets such as commerce and package delivery, ratcheting up the competition with Amazon.com.
Google, the world's largest Internet search engine, said it will take years of development to create a service with multiple vehicles flying multiple deliveries per day.
An early version of the drone, which Google showcased in a video on its website, has a 1.5 meter-(yard-) wide wingspan and is capable of flying pre-programmed routes.
"These planes have much more in common with the Google self-driving car than the remote-controlled airplanes people fly in parks on weekends," Google said on its website, referring to the company's test fleet of automobiles that use sensors and radars to navigate city streets and freeways on their own.
The drone Google showed in the video Thursday was equipped with rotors to allow for vertical takeoff and landing, as well as a fixed wing for plane-like flying. The drone flew about 40 meters above the treeline, Google said, and dropped a package of chocolate bars to a farmer in Queensland, Australia.