Wing, a drone delivery company, is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. which was started by Google. The company has been conducting drone delivery trials in the United States, Australia, and Finland since 2017. In October 2021, the company finally kicked off commercial drone delivery in Australia after years of testing. The service includes mall-to-home drone deliveries with a record-breaking time of two minutes, 47 seconds.

A Highly Efficient Drone Delivery System

Google Wing has been testing drone delivery in Australia for quite a while now. In 2019, they launched their pilot project in the country, which to say the least was not well received. Local residents complained of noise disturbance from drones. This led to the Australian Federal government finding Wing’s drones to be exceeding the noise-cap. Therefore, Wing began working on a noise-free propeller design.

Additionally, Wing made a switch in its delivery model this year. Instead of going about the distribution center route, it took a direct retailer-to-customer approach. For instance, in Virginia, it still follows the distribution center model where packages are brought to a drone delivery center and then dropped off at delivery points in the neighborhood. However, in Australia, the company has launched a rooftop delivery station above malls. Thus, drones deliver packages from malls directly to the homes of people.

A Wing droneport on the rooftop of Grand Plaza shopping complex in Logan, Australia
A Wing ‘droneport’ on the rooftop of Grand Plaza shopping complex in Logan, Australia | Source: Wing

Eco-friendly and 90% more cheaper

Wing states that such a system of delivery is about ‘50 times more efficient than a gas-powered vehicle.’ The company has also stated that within six weeks of adopting this delivery model, they have made over 2,500 package deliveries from the rooftop of Grand Plaza shopping center in Logan, Australia. Wing has the upper hand in food deliveries. Food items such as ice-creams, beverages, and other ready-to-eat consumables are spoiled by the time they’re delivered conventionally. With drones, this problem is taken care of. A delivery time of three minutes ensures that your ice cream never melts by the time you receive it.

With over a dozen drones operating from a single rooftop, Wing can make well over 1000 deliveries a day. This is more than twice the deliveries made by a gas-powered vehicle. While delivering large packages is not yet within the scope of drone deliveries, a package weighing up to 2.2kg (5 lbs) can easily be delivered. Two-thirds of the Australian population lives 30-minutes away from Wing’s 61 strategically positioned droneports.

Drone delivery company Manna has clearly demonstrated drone deliveries to be 90% cheaper with 50x less environmental impact. Manna has been making 2000-3000 drone deliveries a day in Ireland, operating from rooftops. Wing can achieve similar targets if scaled up.

Final Thoughts

Imagine ordering fast food and a drone whizzing outside your home with your order within minutes. This concept sounded far-fetched only a decade ago. Wing even received clearance from the FAA back in 2019. Currently, the company is working on a UTM system to streamline its drone operations. An efficient UTM system could revolutionize drone delivery networks across the world.

Countries like the US, Australia, Ireland are early adopters of such technologies. Drone delivery may take more time to come to countries like India. This is mostly because of the complex and dense urban setting and the regulations. However, India has already issued official UTM guidelines. While a drone may not deliver fast food within minutes outside your home, drones are already delivering vaccines to rural communities across India.