Search giant Google has announced a date for the launch of its drone delivery service.
Called Project Wing, the initiative aims to be delivering goods to consumers using the robot aircraft sometime in 2017.
The announcement came from David Vos, the project leader for the delivery service.
Online retailers such as Amazon, Alibaba and others are also experimenting with drone delivery.
“Our goal is to have commercial business up and running in 2017,” said Mr Vos during a speech at an air traffic control convention being held in Washington.
No details have been given about what type of drones Google might use for the service nor what type of packages they will be delivering.
Details about Project Wing emerged in 2014. Initially it was run inside Google X – the firm’s secretive research lab. It is now believed to be under the control of Alphabet – the parent company that the former divisions of Google now operate under.
For that early work the company built its own drones and flew them in trials in Australia. Early reports suggested the drones would be used for disaster relief or to deliver urgently needed medical supplies.
Google’s custom-designed drones can hover and winch packages down to the ground for delivery.
Amazon has already detailed its plans to use drones to deliver goods. It said its octocopters could ferry 2.3kg of goods to customers within 30 minutes of an order being placed.
In addition, in early 2015, China’s largest online retailer Alibaba carried out a three-day trial of drone delivery around its offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.