Wing unveils remote operations centre for drone delivery

Alphabet’s drone delivery company Wing has unveiled its new remote operations centre where pilots will monitor multiple missions at a time.

Instead of concentrating on just one aircraft, the company’s Pilots in Command (PICs) stationed in the remote places are in charge of managing multiple simultaneous flights across entire service areas, Wing said in a blogpost on Friday.

As the flight navigation system plans its own routes, individual flights do not require human interaction.

The system runs its own health checks, notifies when problems occur and handle emergencies as they arise. That frees up Wing’s operators to manage the entire system across vast areas and numerous drones.

“The day-in-a-life at these remote operations centres looks a lot like an air traffic control centre,” said Mark Blanks, head of flight operations, Wing.

“Our PICs are in an office in a central location that allows them to cover multiple time zones,” Blanks added.

The Ground Support Operators are based in each service area and can be quickly dispatched to an aircraft’s location when a situation calls for hands-on intervention such as moving a drone on its charging pad.

“The PICs aren’t watching through the camera of any drones or controlling aircraft with a joystick. Instead they’re watching our aircraft complete missions, they’re monitoring weather and other air traffic, the overall health of the system and responding to alerts if they pop up,” Blanks explained.

“As drone delivery grows, I believe we’ll need more Remote Operations Facilities like these and that’s going to create some interesting new career opportunities for all types of aviation enthusiasts,” he added.

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