Regulatory hurdles need to be overcome before drone services can launch en masse

Google's drone package deliveries to begin in 2017

Google has announced it expects to launch its ‘Project Wing’ drone delivery service to customers in 2017.

David Vos, Project Wing’s leader, said his company is in talks with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other stakeholders about setting up an air traffic control system for drones that would use cellular and internet technology to coordinate unmanned aerial vehicle flights at altitudes under 500 feet (152 meters).

"Our goal is to have commercial business up and running in 2017," he told an audience at an air traffic control convention near Washington.

Vos believes that a drone registry system could be set up within the next 12 months, which is essential to ensure that the vehicles maintain distance from other drones and aircraft.

"We're pretty much on a campaign here, working with the FAA, working with the small UAV community and the aviation community at large, to move things along," he said.

The service mirrors that of Google’s major rival Amazon which won approval by US federal regulators to start outdoor trials of a similar drone-based delivery service in March.

The Obama administration hopes to set up a drone registry by December 20 before embarking on the wireless network technology needed to ensure safety in controlled airspace.

Research into Project Wing has been taking place over the last two years and it was first announced to the public with a YouTube video of a prototype demonstration in Australia in August 2014.

The prototype, which was 1.5 meters wide and 0.8 meters tall, uses the same four-propeller quad copter design made popular in consumer drones, but the company said consumers can expect to see new vehicle types and shapes as the project unfolds.

In September, the UK government said it was considering placing restrictions on drones following a number of near misses with aircraft.

A drone nearly collided with a Lufthansa plane as it approached Warsaw international airport, Polish officials revealed in July.

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