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Google reveals Project Wing, drone deliveries to rival Amazon Prime Air

Google has built its own small drones capable of delivering packages, and has been testing this hardware out in Australia.

Project Wing, which is part of Google X, the company's not-so-secret research and development lab, has actually been underway for two years, and aims to produce drones that in the longer-term could help with disaster relief, delivering much needed supplies to remote areas in trouble.

Astro Teller, head of the Google X labs, told the BBC: "Even just a few of these, being able to shuttle nearly continuously could service a very large number of people in an emergency situation."

Of course, such machines could also be used for domestic deliveries, an idea that Amazon has cottoned on to, with the retail giant developing its Prime Air drones to ensure that Prime delivery really is a speedy affair.

Google's drone, which looks more like a miniature white aircraft (with a wingspan of 1.5 metres) than Amazon's effort, has been tested dropping boxes of chocolates, dog treats and other goodies to farmers in Queensland – tests which have gone pretty well by all accounts. Check out the video above to see a sample run in action.

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With a fixed wing, the drone can fly like a plane, but its propellers can also be pointed straight up to allow it to take off vertically or hover, and better land deliveries.

It can be programmed with a destination and will fly there automatically, with the emphasis on speed and efficiency – in terms of the latter, Google says it can go further than currently available commercial quadcopter craft.

Nicholas Roy, the founder of Project Wing, said it was still "years from a product", but that this was the "first prototype that we want to stand behind".

Google said: "We're only just beginning to develop the technology to make a safe delivery system possible, but we think that there's tremendous potential to transport goods more quickly, safely and efficiently."

The company is also looking for interested partners in the project, and businesses can register their interest using this form.

Related: House of Lords to debate letting swarms of drones descend on the UK

It's yet another finger in a pie for Google, which seems to be developing, well, pretty much everything these days.