Alphabet’s Wing spinoff is set to launch a drone delivery service in Helsinki, Finland’s capital, in spring next year, the company has announced. It will be its first operation in Europe.
The news: It will just be a small-scale trial, with the drones only able to carry packages weighing up to 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) on a round trip of up to 20 miles. Wing is pitching the drones as an environmentally friendly choice, claiming they have a carbon footprint less than a 20th that of traditional deliveries. Wing graduated from Google’s X division in July to become a separate company, after six years of development.
Drone delivery: Wing is asking Finnish would-be users what they would like to have delivered, with options including medicine, groceries, and lunch. It obviously sees Finland's interesting weather as a good testing ground, too. “If our drones can deliver here, they can deliver anywhere,” Wing says. It has spent the last 18 months trialing drone deliveries in southeastern Australia, which poses fewer challenges in that department.
Missed deadlines: Drone deliveries have proved a lot more challenging than techies had originally thought. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos promised drone deliveries within five years in December 2013, a deadline the company won’t meet.
However … Drones have taken off (sorry) in some other sectors. The UK’s national grid uses drones to inspect overhead lines, while Minnesota’s transport department is set to deploy them to examine bridges. The tech is also increasingly being used in construction, by emergency services, and for filming and photography.
Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free
Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3
The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus
The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.
Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging
The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.
Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI
One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.