Wing by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is transforming the drone industry. Working in Australia, Finland and the United States, the startup’s air delivery service offers customers the ability to buy local products with the utmost of accessibility and convenience. According to the company’s website, Wing’s drones can pick up a package—such as goods from a pharmacy, hardware store, restaurant or coffee shop—fly to a pre-determined site, hover over the delivery zone and lower the goods to the ground at a precise area.
Now, the company has developed OpenSky, an app to help drone flyers find safe places and times to fly their drones. While the app’s ratings on the App Store and Google Play currently leave much to be desired, the company seems dedicated to revising and improving the app over time. As the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) plans to take down its own app in order to establish a digital platform based on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) to which app developers can connect their own drone safety apps, OpenSky is the first third-party app to be approved that uses this new system.
“Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is taking an innovative approach to giving drone operators information to enable safe and predictable flight,” Wing Project Manager Reinaldo Negron wrote in a Medium post. “By allowing the drone industry to implement a diverse ecosystem of apps and services which drone flyers can use to obtain flight-related information, CASA is creating space for innovation while ensuring a strong baseline of public safety and regulatory oversight.”
To use the app, users need to select the type of drone operator they are: recreational, commercial or ReOC (a comercial drone operator with a remote operator’s certificate). They then use the map’s search box to look addresses to find information about no-fly zones, CASA compliance maps and other possible restrictions. OpenSky can also help users identify flight hazards and report improper drone operations to CASA.
“Over time, a CASA-approved ecosystem of apps and services will enhance drone operator choice, public safety, and spur further innovation in the drone industry,” Reinaldo continued. “By enabling this ecosystem, CASA and the Australian Government provide a compelling example to other countries seeking to safely integrate drones into their national aviation system, and we’re excited to help support the future of Australian drone flight with them.”
Wing also plans to create tools to help CASA communicate with drone operators during major events, including concerts, sporting matches and emergency response incidents.
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