Google Wing delivery drones could soon be picking up packages from Australian shops rather than asking retailers to co-locate in the tech giant’s distribution centres.
Jesse Suskin, the business’ head of government relations, hinted the significant development could happen within six months and said the “complicated” challenge is now “solvable”.
Wing launched commercially in Canberra and Logan in 2019 and currently allows for the delivery of packages that weigh less than 1.5 kilograms from a variety of vendors who sell household and perishable goods, including coffees and sandwiches.
Australia has quietly become the epicentre of Google’s global plans for conquering the drone delivery industry in recent years, with Wing conducting more deliveries here than in any other country worldwide.
Suskin was speaking to the Australian Aviation print magazine, out today, as part of our feature examining the burgeoning sector. To find out more and subscribe, click here.
“I think you’ll start to see a model soon where the drones go where the items are versus the items coming to where the drones are,” said Suskin.
“That’s not too far off. It’s a complicated piece of the puzzle, but certainly a solvable one. And it’s something we’re working on.
“If we catch up six months from now, and you say, ‘What’s different?’, I think that might be one of those pieces where the drones aren’t just at our own locations, they might be at other people’s locations as well.”
Wing started life in 2012 as one of the first projects at the tech giant’s super-secretive research lab, Google X, alongside its augmented reality eyeglasses and self-driving cars. It launched its first trials in 2018 before starting more commercial flights the following year in both Canberra and Logan, Queensland.
Once a customer submits an order via the app, the drone flies to pick up the package at the designated delivery centre, before climbing to a cruise height of 45 metres and flying to the destination.
Once there, it hovers and lowers the package to the ground, automatically unclipping the parcel without assistance from the customer.
Earlier this year, Wing revealed its pilot service grew 500 per cent in 2020, and has now made more than 18,000 deliveries to the Logan community, including more than 1,000 deliveries during the last state-wide lockdown.
It’s subsequently expanded to deliver coffee to offices in Logan, rather than just residential homes, and also grew to service locations in a dozen suburbs.