Google’s Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Australia

Google’s commercial air delivery service has been launched in Canberra, Australia. Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has started delivering coffee, over-the-counter medicines, food, and other products to a small number of customers. In collaboration with several local businesses, Wing is using drones to transport small household items to customers in the northern suburbs of Crace, Franklin, and Palmerston.

In a press release, Wing Medium said, “Our service allows customers to order a range of items such as fresh food, hot coffee or over-the-counter chemist items on our mobile app and have them delivered directly to their homes by drone in minutes.” The company also announced its plans to extend the service to neighboring areas in the next few months.

After evaluating the company’s operational plans and safety record for months, the Civilian Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) finally approved Wing’s application to operate a drone delivery service, according to BBC News. Despite complaints from area residents about the noise generated by drones as they make their way to the recipients’ locations, CASA, which has allowed Wing to test the service since 2014, concluded that the drones did not pose any risk to other aircraft or residents.

According to the press release, Wing intends to put up community information kiosks and hold delivery demonstrations in locations where the service is being offered to ensure that the residents adjust to these deliveries. As part of its policy to protect the locals from disturbances, CASA has required Wing drones to avoid main roads and to make deliveries only during daytime hours, according to Observer.

In the past 18 months, Wing’s drones have conducted over 3,000 deliveries to various customers in Bonython, Fernleigh Park, and Royalla communities as a prelude to the official launching of its service. According to BBC News, during this lengthy trial period, inhabitants outside Canberra launched the Bonython Against Drones campaign, to complain about the disruption of peace in the area because of the noisy drones.

On its website, the group said, “When they do a delivery drop they hover over the site and it sounds like an extremely loud, squealing vacuum cleaner.”

Consequently, CASA ordered Wing to come up with quieter drones when dropping deliveries. The Australian aviation authority also directed Wing to conduct deliveries on weekdays only between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm.

Wing complied with these directives, stating that “The feedback we have received during the trials has been valuable, helping us to refine our operations to better meet the needs and expectations of the communities in which we operate.”

Among the local businesses that hooked up with Wing for this service are Bakers Delight, Capital Chemist, Jasper + Myrtle, Kickstart Expresso, Guzman Y Gomez, and Drummond Golf. Wing also expressed its willingness to form partnerships with more companies in the future, specifically those who are aiming to “reach more customers faster, safer and more sustainably.”

According to The Guardian, Wing projects that at full capacity its drone delivery service could add as much as $28.5 million to Australia’s annual revenue.