Google’s drone delivery service Wing has “sunsetted” its consumer operations in Canberra as it shifts away from basing its operations out of larger warehouses.
Speaking to the ABC, Wing’s head of government relations, Jesse Suskin, said the company would now focus on servicing businesses based out of shopping centres, with the devices taking off from the building’s roof.
Wing launched commercially in 2019 in Australia and allows for the delivery of packages weighing less than 1.5 kilograms, such as coffees and sandwiches. However, the tech is currently limited to picking up packages from stores that locate within its distribution centre, shopping mall roofs or supermarket car parks.
“Canberra was the very first location we operated in globally,” said Suskin. “It was one of the first places in the world to have drone delivery. But over the years, as we’ve been operating more and growing more, we’ve shifted our model away from flying drones from our own facilities.
“In Canberra, we had a warehouse in Mitchell where drones were taking off and landing and where our merchants co-located their products with us. Now we just put the drones in major shopping centres – that way, more merchants can have access to drone delivery without that added step of going to a warehouse.”
According to Suskin, the company does not yet have a suitable Canberra shopping centre to make consumer deliveries from.
“Part of that is because we’re in a highly regulated space, so opening sites does take a lot of time,” he added. “But for the time being, we’ve retained our highly skilled workforce.
“We have pilots and geospatial experts that will still be working in Canberra. There still will be some drones in the air from time to time piloting new non-consumer delivery.”
Wing also operates in Logan in southeast Queensland, and Suskin said areas like this, as well as Gungahlin in the ACT, are better for drone delivery than large CBDs.
“The profile of where we like to go are densely populated residential areas where people aren’t within walking distance necessarily to their shops. That’s where we really add that level of convenience and speed,” he said.
“This is where people sometimes have to sit in their car for 15 or 20 minutes before they get to the centre to run in for that quick item. We also fly very fast – delivering things that are hot or cold we do well because we fly at 110 kilometres and don’t stop for red lights, so we can deliver very quickly and we don’t sit in traffic.
“So it’s a great way to augment last-mile delivery, and there’s a lot of last-mile delivery growth in sprawling suburb areas.”
The Australian Aviation print magazine featured an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at its operation in 2021, which Premium Content subscribers can read here. We then took another look at its evolution into delivering from retail premises in our drone In Focus digital edition.