From the distance comes a high-pitched whining. It sounds horrible, like a giant mosquito. Or maybe a herd of angry mice screaming in a wind tunnel. It is in fact a flying burrito. And it’s flying courtesy of Wing’s ambitious drone delivery program.
That’s right: Google/Alphabet’ Project Wing has been given the green light to turn its drone delivery trials in Canberra, Australia, into a fully-fledged service that’s open to the public.
It’s raining burritos, bread and paracetamol
What started as a distant dream in 2012 is becoming a reality. Customers in eligible homes in the Canberra suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin will be among the first to be able to order products from local businesses and have them delivered by drone.
Wing customers can order a range of items such as fresh food, hot coffee and over-the-counter chemist items through a mobile app. The goods will be delivered directly to their homes by drone in a matter of minutes.
Wing has been testing drone delivery technology in Australia since 2014. Those efforts have ramped up in the past year or so, and Wing has already delivered food, household items and over the counter chemist products more than 3,000 times to Australian homes in the rural communities of Fernleigh Park, Royalla and Bonython.
This week CASA, the Australian aviation administration, signed off on Wing’s plans. Casa spokesman Peter Gibson told Guardian Australia that the Wing’s safety measures and methodology had been approved.
“All those safety issues have been assessed so there are no risks to people on the ground, property or aircraft in the sky,” he said.
Whining and dining
Drone delivery projects are already benefitting isolated communities around the world. Wing will be hoping that the residents of Canberra’s suburbs appreciate the convenience of drone delivery, if not the high-pitched soundtrack that inevitably comes with it.
Writing in a Medium post the company said: “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. We will continue to engage with the local community and stakeholders as we expand our service and are hosting community information stalls and delivery demonstrations in the serviceable areas over the next few weeks.
Wing strongly believes that by working together with local policymakers, regulators, and communities, we can improve access to services, open up new economic opportunities, and better connect our cities. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with the Canberra community as we expand Wing’s service.”