Google's Wing kicks off first drone delivery service in Australia

The air delivery developer Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, began flying fresh food, coffee, over the counter medications and other products to select customers as part of its first commercial drone delivery service launched in Australia’s capital this week.

Wing partnered with local businesses to deliver small household items via drone to eligible homes in Canberra, located southwest of Sydney. Products are lowered from the drone by a string to the front yard of paying customers who live in the capital’s northern suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin.

“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,” Wing Medium wrote in a press release Monday, announcing plans to expand the service to surrounding areas in the coming months.

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The Australian aviation authority granted Wing permission to operate a commercial drone delivery service after evaluating the company’s safety record and operational plans, BBC News reported. Despite complaints from residents over noise from drone flights, the agency has allowed Wing to test the service since 2014, concluding that the drones pose no risk to residents or other aircraft.

Wing will host community information stalls and delivery demonstrations in areas where the service is offered to ensure residents adjust to the drone deliveries, according to the press release. The country’s aviation authority requires Wing drones to steer clear of main roads and people and only to conduct deliveries during daytime hours as part of a policy to protect locals from disturbances, Observer reported.

Over the past 18 months, Wing’s drones have flown products to the doors of residents in Fernleigh Park, Royalla and Bonython communities more than 3,000 times before the commercial service was launched. During the service’s trial period, residents outside Canberra launched the Bonython Against Drones campaign, complaining loud drones disrupted the peace in local neighborhoods, BBC News reported.

"When they do a delivery drop they hover over the site and it sounds like an extremely loud, squealing vacuum cleaner," the group said on its website. The Australian aviation authority ordered Wing to develop quieter drones for its deliveries. As part of the agency’s new policy, drone deliveries will only be conducted on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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“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,” the company stated.

The company has partnered with local businesses, including Kickstart Expresso, Capital Chemist, Pure Gelato, Jasper + Myrtle, Bakers Delight, Guzman Y Gomez, and Drummond Golf. Wing is looking to partner with more companies in the future who are looking to “reach more customers faster, safer and more sustainably.”

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