Google's delivery drones get the green light in Australia
Google's parent company Alphabet is launching its very first air delivery service in the Australian capital of Canberra, following years of trials in the area. Now given the green light by the country's aviation authority, Wing, as the Alphabet subsidiary is called, will now begin delivering an assortment of goods to local customers via a mobile app.
Alphabet has been testing its drone technology in Australia since 2014 with the intention of streamlining the delivery of small packages. Over the last 18 months, it has been working with local businesses in the region to deliver food, drinks, coffee and items from the chemist as a way of trialing the technology, with over 3,000 deliveries completed.
Now, as reported by The Guardian, Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has granted the company approval to proceed with commercial operations. This follows an examination of its air traffic management systems, drone pilot training and maintenance operations.
"All those safety issues have been assessed so there are no risks to people on the ground, property or aircraft in the sky," CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson told The Guardian Australia.
There are a few caveats. The drones won't be able to fly over major roads, for example, and they must keep a certain distance from people on the ground.
To begin with, the service will be limited to a cluster of homes in the Canberra suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin, where customers will be able to order everyday items via the Wing mobile app and have them arrive in a matter of minutes.
This includes coffee from a local cafe, items from a local chemist, food from a local bakery and Mexican food from Guzman and Gomez, which has been trialing drone deliveries for a while. Gelato is also on the menu, though the drones would want to move pretty quickly in the Australian summer.
Wing's operations follow in the flightpaths of similar early-stage drone delivery services around the world, including one launched by UPS last month to ferry medical supplies in North Carolina, a Dominos store-to-customer delivery in New Zealand and 7-Eleven drone deliveries in Nevada.
Wing's service will kick off in the coming weeks, and it says it plans to expand to more homes in the surrounding areas in the weeks and months thereafter. It also plans to launch a similar service in Finland this year.
You can hear from Kickstart Expresso, one of its delivery partners in the video below.