Much has been said about children who have been forced into online learning as they shelter in place. Along with being forced to go through all their education through a Zoom session, they’re now stuck mostly at home for their summer vacation. Google is helping with the boredom in one location, using its drone delivery service to drop off library books.
Existing Drone Delivery Service
We’ve been hearing about drones changing deliveries as we know it for some time now, just as we’ve been hearing about autonomous deliveries. So far neither has seen widespread use.
The Christiansburg, Virginia, area has already been receiving deliveries via Google drone. Last October the tech company started its pilot program with its “Wing” drone delivery service. It partnered with FedEx and Walgreens, delivering over-the-counter medication. It also partnered with local restaurants, delivering meals.
Google has been testing Wing since 2014 with its first test flights in Queensland, Australia, though the pandemic certainly brought more business to the Christiansburg area.
Delivering Library Books
The Google drone service will now add another responsibility: delivering library books to kids, still in the Christiansburg area, to kids quarantined in the summer and in other months when they may be stuck at home. It’s somewhat of a high-tech bookmobile.
A Montgomery County Public Schools middle-school librarian, Kelly Passek, recommended using the service for the library books. “I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone,” she said.
Passek was helping to organize book deliveries via school buses after the schools closed during the pandemic. Not all children have access to e-readers, and buying either hard copy books or ebooks isn’t cheap. She realized libraries are the only way some students have access to books. Delivering books is an essential service to her.
The librarian is taking requests for books via Google Forms and searches through the district’s libraries for the requests, then packs them and drops them at the Wing facility. The books don’t have to be returned until school starts again, hopefully in the fall.
There are currently 600 students living within the Wing delivery area. The library book delivery will operate as an extension of the service. It’s unknown how often Google will be delivering books to students or how long the program will continue.
Yet, it’s easy to see how this could be a service that could really take off, delivering library books as well as drone delivery altogether. With contactless deliveries and payments happening throughout the health crisis, drone deliveries could be an easy answer.
Frankly, it’s surprising that this idea hasn’t taken off in more areas than this town in Virginia. However, many companies have plans in the works, including UPS, Uber, and Amazon. In fact, Amazon claimed a year ago that drone deliveries were only months away.
Maybe the Google drone service delivering library books to quarantined children will light a fire under these other companies to get going with their own plans.
Image Credit: Wing Launches America’s First Commercial Drone Delivery Service to Homes in Christiansburg, Virginia and public domain