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Google Wing Launches Drone Deliveries in Australia

Google Wing Launches Drone Deliveries in Australia

Author: Michael Cheng   

In the silent race to commercialize drone-based deliveries, Google is the company to beat. Leveraging its startup Wing, the tech giant has officially launched drone deliveries in Canberra, Australia.

The company received regulatory approval from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) after proving its flight capabilities via a series of rigorous trials. During the tests, which lasted 18 months, Wing successfully conducted 3,000 drone deliveries – without any reported safety incidents.

Approved for Home Deliveries

Initially, the startup will deliver mainstream consumable products, such as coffee, medicine, ice cream and fresh food. Such products were also the focus of previous trials in the area. To use the service, locals must place their orders using a mobile app. In Canberra, the company will serve the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin. At the moment, the service caters to more than 100 homes. Expansion is expected to reach Harrison and Gungahlin later this year.

"We started in 2012 with the goal of radically improving delivery. We believed that if people could access items when and where they need them, they could live a higher quality of life, with more choice and freedom," said Wing on its website.

Outside of Australia, Wing is preparing to launch a free drone-based delivery trial in Helsinki, Finland. The battery-powered quadcopters will be tasked with transporting packages and consumable goods up to 3.3 pounds, over a maximum distance of 6.2 miles.

Wing's competitors in this nascent sector includes: UPS, Amazon, Matternet, Zipline International, Israel-based Flytrex and Flirtey. Designed to reduce traffic on busy roads, most of the businesses are in the trial stages of development, with ongoing programs in major cities across the globe.

Adhering to Local Flight Standards

The startup must comply with several safety standards set forth by Australia's CASA. First, the company may only conduct drone flights after 7am from Monday to Saturday and after 8am on Sunday. This is likely due to feedback from recent trials, citing the drones used to deliver goods contributed to noise pollution. It is important to consider that the units deployed in the area are much larger than consumer drones designed for taking aerial photos. Wing's drones look like small planes with numerous rotors.

From another perspective, flying quadcopters in daylight conditions is also safer, compared to nighttime flights.

"Wing has already conducted thousands of drone deliveries in Canberra with an approval from CASA," said a spokesman from CASA.

"Safety data from these trials was carefully assessed by CASA before approval was given for the operations in North Canberra."

Next, Wing's drones must not fly over main roadways. The units are limited to flying over streets and homes. Such guidelines are expected to loosen in favor of the business, as confidence about the service increases over time.

When it comes to flight operations, the quadcopters can fly 16.5 feet above individuals. During drop-off maneuvers, drones can get as close as 6.5 feet (horizontally) from people. On the receiving end, customers will be briefed about maintaining a safe distance from the compact aircrafts.  

Michael Cheng
Michael Cheng
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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