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Google’s Wing Aviation Receives Approval from FAA to Operate Drone for Deliveries

It's the first time a company has gotten a federal air carrier certification for drone deliveries

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Rumors suggest that Google may unveil a mid-range Pixel phone as a cheaper option to the flagship model currently on sale for $800. VOA

Google affiliate Wing Aviation has received federal approval allowing it to make commercial deliveries by drone.

It’s the first time a company has gotten a federal air carrier certification for drone deliveries. The approval from the Federal Aviation Administration means that Wing can operate commercial drone flights in part of Virginia, which it plans to begin later this year.

The FAA said Tuesday that the company met the agency’s safety requirements by participating in a pilot program in Virginia with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Virginia Tech, and by conducting thousands of flights in Australia over the past several years.

“This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.

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“This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement. Wikimedia

Wing said the approval “means that we can begin a commercial service delivering goods from local businesses to homes in the United States.”

The company didn’t name any businesses that would take part in commercial deliveries. It said it plans to spend the next several months demonstrating its technology and answering questions from people and businesses in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia.

Wing said it will “solicit feedback with the goal of launching a delivery trial later this year.”

Wing said that to win FAA certification it had to show that one of its drone deliveries would pose less risk to pedestrians than the same trip made in a car. The company said its drones have flown more than 70,000 test flights and made more than 3,000 deliveries to customers in Australia.

The company is touting many benefits from deliveries by electric drones. It says medicine and food can be delivered faster, that drones will be especially helpful to consumers who need help getting around, and that they can reduce traffic and emissions.

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FILE – A drone demonstrates delivery capabilities from the top of a UPS truck during testing in Lithia, Florida, Feb. 20, 2017. VOA

Drone usage in the U.S. has grown rapidly in some industries such as utilities, pipelines and agriculture. But drones have faced more obstacles in delivering retail packages and food because of federal regulations that bar most flights over crowds of people and beyond sight of the operator without a waiver from the FAA.

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The federal government recently estimated that about 110,000 commercial drones were operating in the U.S., and that number is expected to zoom to about 450,000 in 2022.

Amazon is working on drone delivery, a topic keen to CEO Jeff Bezos. Delivery companies including UPS and DHL have also conducted tests. (VOA)

Next Story

Google AI Can Now Predict Lung Cancer Accurately

The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

A team of Google researchers has used a deep-learning algorithm to detect lung cancer accurately from computed scans.

The work demonstrates the potential for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to increase both accuracy and consistency, which could help accelerate adoption of lung cancer screening worldwide.

Lung cancer is the deadliest of all cancers worldwide — more than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined — and it’s the sixth most common cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organization.

“Using advances in 3D volumetric modeling alongside datasets from our partners (including Northwestern University), we’ve made progress in modeling lung cancer prediction as well as laying the groundwork for future clinical testing,” Shravya Shetty, M.S. Technical Lead at Google explained in a blog post late Monday.

Google researchers created a model that can not only generate the overall lung cancer malignancy prediction (viewed in 3D volume) but also identify subtle malignant tissue in the lungs (lung nodules).

Google on an Android device. Pixabay

In the research, Google AI leveraged 45,856 de-identified chest CT screening cases (some in which cancer was found).

“When using a single CT scan for diagnosis, our model performed on par or better than the six radiologists. We detected five per cent more cancer cases while reducing false-positive exams by more than 11 per cent compared to unassisted radiologists in our study,” said Google.

For an asymptomatic patient with no history of cancer, the AI system reviewed and detected potential lung cancer that had been previously called normal.

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These initial results are encouraging, but further studies will assess the impact and utility in clinical practice, said Google.

The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine. (IANS)