Canberra hosts Google-backed drone delivery trials

Wing CEO James Burgess with a drone and its quieter propeller system

Wing CEO James Burgess with a drone and its quieter propeller system

The air delivery service by Wing, the drone company, will carry a range of items such as hot coffee, fresh food and over-the-counter items ordered by mobile app.

The project is being led by Google's parent company Alphabet, which managed to fend off competition from Amazon to win over Australian regulators.

A world-first drone delivery business has been granted approval to take to the skies over Canberra's north.

Wing has also uploaded a video showing a testimonial from a woman who has participated in the drone delivery trials.

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority granted the project regulatory approval, after an 18 month trial which involved 3,000 deliveries.

Wing was spun out of Alphabet's X research division in July past year to become an independent company within Alphabet and is part of the Other Bets division.

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Wing's drones are not allowed to fly over main roads, and are not permitted to fly close to crowds of people.

On the other hand Tuggeranong resident Jamie Hengst said she uses the service regularly and that "the little bit of noise you get for five minutes is totally worth it" because the drones can deliver food that's not usually available in the area in just 10 minutes. As part of the agency's new policy, drone deliveries will only be conducted on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Assuming everything goes according to plan, it will expand to the suburbs of Harrison and Gungahlin in the following months.

Critics have questioned the safety of a drone delivery service amid concerns that drones could crash into people or animals.

In response, Wing said it had developed a quieter drone.

The drones are automated, and a licensed pilot is at the helm all the time, but by using machine learning they can choose a drop zone on their own, away from obstacles like trees, buildings, and power lines.

Currently, the internet giant is only operating its drone delivery service in parts of the USA with trials set to start in the United Kingdom.

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