Google parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) was founded in 2015 to allow for more transparency regarding the company’s subsidiaries that are unrelated to its core product, the search engine. These subsidiaries, such as X and Google Ventures, are constantly working on life-changing products, such as self-driving cars and virtual reality. This past week, Verily Life Sciences, Alphabet’s life science subsidiary, announced a new partnership whose mission is to change the way diabetes is monitored.
Verily and French pharmaceutical company Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY) announced that they will be investing $500 million in a joint venture called Onduo, whose goal will be to address global diabetes. Onduo’s main focus will be on Type II diabetes, which affects 90% of patients afflicted with the disease. It develops due to the body’s inability to properly use the insulin produced by the pancreas. The current treatment consists of dietary change, monitoring of blood sugar levels and insulin injections to correct the blood sugar levels.
Sanofi is currently a worldwide leader in the production of diabetes drugs while Verily has more experience with software and electronic development. The companies plan to “leverage Verily’s experience in miniaturized electronics, analytics, and consumer software development, with Sanofi’s clinical expertise and experience in bringing innovative treatments to people living with diabetes.”
Onudo hopes to introduce advances in how diabetes is monitored and treated. Diabetes is one of the most common and lucrative diseases in the world with close to 600 million people affected. Patients with the disease are desperate for a company to develop a better blood glucose monitor. Sanofi and Verily are excited about its joint venture because they don’t have to rely on the “10-year development cycle of a pharmaceutical asset” and they can “start to innovate today.”
Alphabet’s busy week continued with its announcement of a second major partnership that could help change the landscape of food delivery. Project Wing, an extension of Alphabet’s innovation lab X, has partnered up with Chipotle to test autonomous flights and deliveries. The companies will use an automated drone, with human pilots on standby, to deliver burritos from a Chipotle food truck to a group of students and employees at Virginia Tech. The drones will hover above its target and lower the package using a winch.
Alphabet has tested real-world test flights before, almost two years ago, but this is the company’s first delivery that involves customers. Mark Blanks, director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, claims that this project is “the most complex delivery flight operation” in U.S. history. Alphabet is using this test to monitor how well the drones fly and if the packaging can protect and keep the food warm.
Alphabet envisions its drone technology to significantly change society and the economy. It believes the integration of drone deliveries will reduce carbon emissions and change the way consumers shop. Before this can happen, companies will have to convince the FAA that drones can avoid crashing and safely navigate, using robotic technology, to drop spots. Alphabet anticipates its partnership with Chipotle will be the first major step to achieving this goal.