Project Wing, one of Google parent company Alphabet’s outlandish drone-based side businesses, has been testing food deliveries in rural Australia.
The company, which has been testing its drones for several years, first completed a drone delivery test in 2016, but is now running a more detailed trial of food delivery to the gardens of those living in remote parts of Australia.
“Our testers — alpaca farmers, math professors, equestrians, and artists (not to mention a few curious kangaroos) — have been helping us fine-tune how our drones move goods from where they’re located to where they’re needed,” Project Wing said in a blog post on the subject.
The company has now also announced it has partnered with two Australian merchants – a Mexican food chain and a pharmacy – to fulfil orders from those test customers in remote parts the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales.
“Residents near our testing area on the outskirts of the ACT live an idyllic country lifestyle on 10-acre blocks of rolling land spotted with gum trees and horses,” Project Wing’s James Ryan Burgess said.
“But they face a 40-minute round trip in the car for almost anything, whether it’s a carton of milk, veggies for dinner, or a cup of coffee. Our testers, including young families, busy professionals and retirees, had many suggestions for how our technology could address this fundamental inconvenience. They wanted fresh meals delivered at dinner time.
“Some who run small businesses at home wanted to be able to send customer orders from their doorstep. A few with farms wanted supplies to arrive at their paddocks, or spare parts delivered to the ailing vehicle on their property. Almost all said that they’d value having medicine delivered to their door, especially when they’re unwell.”
Drone delivery is already being trialled in the UK by Amazon, who are using one of their fulfilment centres in Cambridgeshire to trial small package delivery to customers nearby.
Project Wing says it hopes its own tests in Australia can help to it “learn even more about building a delivery network ready to fly in the open skies”.