Google Project Wing
A Project Wing drone flies in a pilot project in Australia where the flying machines successfully delivered candy bars and vaccines to farmers.Photo courtesy of Google

It's up, up and away for Google 's parent company Alphabet which begins US flight tests for delivery drones with the blessing of the White House.

The tests will be conducted by Project Wing, a drone delivery programme developed out of the moonshot lab near the Googleplex in Silicon Valley that's run by Google's sister company X.

The test programme will be the most significant drone delivery trial to date in the US. Amazon recently announced it would begin testing its drone delivery system in the UK.

Alphabet has won the OK to fly drones under 400 feet 122m) to develop an airspace management system. The drones launched on the six federally approved testing spots will carry cargo out of sight of human drone operators. Current regulations require companies to petition the government for permission to fly drones beyond an operator's field of vision.

Project Wing wants to equip its drones with tiny, inexpensive radio transponders that would identify their location to other aircraft and to controllers on the ground, reports Engadget.

As part of the federal go-ahead, all data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators study questions about safety and errors concerning unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) cargo deliveries.

The testing sites were not revealed. Some Project Wing flights have already been tested in Australia. Alphabet X, like Amazon, hopes to have drones start delivering its products from one to three years.

Both companies joined a Federal Aviation Administration task force in late 2015 to hammer out the rules for registering and identifying drones. Big box store Wal-Mart is also part of the team.

Google and Amazon in 2015 helped block a California bill that would have banned unmanned aircraft from flying 350 feet above property without the property owner's consent.

Federal approval for the Project Wing tests were revealed during an announcement of a larger drone initiative by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which includes $35m in federal research funding to the National Science Foundation over the next five years to study the best ways to use drone technology.

The government also announced a collaboration between the Women of Commercial Drones organisation and the Commercial Drone Alliance to advance women's participation in the drone industry.

Officials of the Federal Aviation Administration said they hoped for the first time to allow commercial drones to fly over people by the end of the year, which would be a huge boost for enterprises that want to use the technology for business.

Experts believe the burgeoning commercial drone industry could generate more than $82bn for the US economy and support as many as 100,000 new jobs by 2025.