Delivery drones from Wing, the sister company of Google, have been spotted in the wild — if you count an Australian office park as the wild.
A February post to the Facebook page of Alexander Watson, a home insulation company based in Canberra, Australia showed a real Wing drone delivery in action.
The post includes video of a Wing drone slowly lowering a package to the ground of what looks to be a parking lot. Accompanying video shared in the comments section of that Facebook post shows the whole spectacle. That’s the normal delivery style of Wing drones, which never actually touch land at delivery locations. Instead, Wing drones slow to a hover, descend vertically to about 23 feet above the ground, upon which they lower packages through a hook-and-tether-type mechanism.
The video captured what was the opening of Wing’s first ‘business park’ delivery zones. Rather than office park employees drive offsite to pick up lunch, or be relegated to the same, single sandwich shop every day, drone deliveries to business park delivery zones would enable a more diverse set of lunch options to be delivered to employees during the workday.
A Wing spokesperson said the company is working to expand the workplace delivery zone concept across Australia this year. The ‘business park’ concept is certainly interesting — and in a lot of ways makes absolute sense as a use case. Office parks tend to have ample parking, a couple spaces which could be blocked off for drone delivery. That solves concerns of where drones might otherwise land, especially problematic for apartment buildings or even bigger yards but that are filled with kids and dogs running around.
What’s next for Wing?
The Facebook post showing the drone delivery comes at a time when Wing has otherwise been mostly silent about progress it’s making on drone delivery, as well as other projects that the drone company has its hands in, like UTM (that’s air traffic control for drones) and Remote ID.
Though, the company was especially busy early in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic began. Wing, which focuses its U.S. deliveries primarily in Christiansburg, Virginia, said it saw a 5x surge in demand from customers wanting to get items delivered by drone in the wake of lockdowns. While Wing had already been partnering with everyone from big players including Fedex and Walgreens to small coffee shops, Wing said that since coronavirus, it grew delivery items to include household essentials like pasta or baby food.
Related read: 6 things to know about Wing delivery drones
Wing does have fairly broad authority to test its drones in Australia’s Gungahlin, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Logan, Queensland.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has approved flights to homes and other locations (that is, Australian office parks apparently!) “for community demonstration and delivery flights” throughout Mitchell, Crace, Palmerston, Franklin and Harrison between Feb. 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021. It’s unclear if that April 1 date might be extended. CASA also approved drone delivery flights in Berrinba, Crestmead, Kingston, Logan Central, Marsden, Slacks Creek and Woodbridge between Feb. 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
But CASA approved those flights with one big condition: Wing must collate community feedback (whether given to Wing directly, or to other Australian government offices) and provide that feedback back to CASA.
What do you hope to see for the future of Wing? Are you ready for office park drone deliveries? Or do you have your drone delivery sights set elsewhere? Leave a comment below!