Dave Vos, head of Alphabet’s Project Wing drone delivery initiative, is leaving the company, MarketWatch reports. Vos is leaving Alphabet, Google’s parent company, to “pursue new opportunities.”
Vos worked at the company for about two years, according to LinkedIn. He holds a Ph.D in Aerospace Dynamics, Estimation and Controls from MIT.
“Dave has helped to build a strong foundation of aviation culture on the team, and brought Project Wing to a place where we understand and can execute delivery missions end-to-end, repeatedly and safely,” Alphabet said in a statement to MarketWatch. “We’re grateful for Dave’s contributions and wish him the best of luck in future endeavors.”
In September 2016, Project Wing announced a partnership with Chipotle to use its drones to deliver burritos to students at Virginia Tech. The tests, which began earlier in October, are Project Wing’s first drone delivery tests with US customers. At the time of the announcement, Vos said food was chosen as the delivery item because it’s a challenge to protect and keep warm. He also said a second-gen version of the delivery drones are already in the works, but they won’t be used for these tests.
The US government gave Project Wing the go-ahead for drone delivery tests in August 2016 to “help regulators answer critical safety and human factors questions for [drone] cargo delivery operations.” Project Wing has also been allowed to conduct test flights beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operator and near crowded areas, two of the main roadblocks standing in the way of drone delivery taking off. To get around these rules, human pilots will be standing by to take control of the drones if necessary, and participants involved in the tests will be shielded from the drones.
Project Wing has some stiff competition in the US from Flirtey, the Reno, Nevada-based startup that partnered with 7-Eleven for the first FAA-approved home drone delivery in the US. A Flirtey drone, over two flights, autonomously delivered Slurpees, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and candy to a family about a mile away from a 7-Eleven. Watch the historic home drone delivery below.
In late July 2016, Amazon partnered with the UK government to test its Prime Air drone delivery service. Amazon said the partnership with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will allow it to explore key aspects of drone delivery.