UAV Drone IndustryAggressive Birds Are Taking Down Google’s Delivery Drones

September 29, 2021by helo-10

Google’s sister company Wing has grounded its delivery drones in Australia following repeated and persistent attacks by ravens and other large birds.

Google‘s sister company Wing has been forced to ground its delivery drones in Australia following repeated and persistent attacks by ravens and other large birds. The company delivers food, beverages, medicines, office supplies, and other everyday essentials, and recently celebrated 100,000 deliveries, including more than 50,000 in the city of Logan, Australia, where the company says a drone delivery is made nearly once every 30 seconds during its service hours.

Alongside Canberra and Logan in Australia, Wing is also running its drone delivery operations in Christiansburg, Virginia, and Helsinki, Finland. The company claims that its deliveries grew 500% from 2019 to 2020, and its total deliveries in just the second quarter of this year surpassed its overall volume in all of 2020. Australia has been one of the pioneers in drone usage and even planned to use unmanned quadcopters to detect COVID-19 cases before privacy concerns put an end to that initiative.

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According to reports out of Australia, Wing’s delivery service is facing a problem from an unexpected quarter, and one that the company needs to address before it can restart its operations in the Australian capital. Per the Canberra Times, Wing’s delivery drones are being attacked by ravens while flying to and from their delivery locations. Magpies, hawks, eagles, and other large birds are also attacking the quadcopters, forcing the company to temporarily halt its operations in the city. While it’s not immediately clear as to why the birds are reacting the way they are, the report suggests it is likely a result of territorial behavior during the spring nesting season.

Wing Is Temporarily Stopping Deliveries

Aggressive Birds Are Taking Down Google's Delivery Drones

In a written statement provided to a customer, Wing reportedly said that the “territorial behaviors” demonstrated by “some birds in the area” are behind the company’s decision to stop its service temporarily. That’s according to the ABC, which says the company is now weighing its options on how to restart its operations in the city while ensuring the safety of the birds. In a statement to the media, a Wing spokeswoman said that the attacks have been “extremely rare,” and that no bird has been injured in these incidents.

Talking to the Canberra Times, a drone expert suggested that it would be for the best if the drones could avoid nesting locations during this season. Wayne Condon, the chief pilot, and instructor with UAV Training Australia, also recommended that a drone operator should back the drone away from an attacking bird to ensure the safety of both the bird and the drone. “At the end of the day, it’s their sky and we are the visitor,” he said. He also claimed that the best time to avoid most bird attacks is early in the morning.

Conflicts between birds and drones are nothing new and hobbyist drone operators have been dealing with bird attacks for a long time. However, birds grounding one of the preeminent drone delivery services in the world is something that needs to be addressed as these services scale up in the coming years. Drone delivery startups like Wing are already dealing with stifling legislation and apprehensive regulatory agencies that prohibit them in many countries, including most of the United States. Now the nascent industry has to deal with nature to prevent it from getting derailed even before it can properly start its journey.

Next: Best Drones Under $200 (Updated 2021)

Source: Canberra Times, ABC

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