Tuesday, 17 October 2017 11:25

Google parent Alphabet testing drone delivery in ACT, NSW

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Project Wing, an initiative of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is testing the ability of its drone technology to make deliveries directly to residences on the border of the ACT and NSW.

The people involved in the testing are alpaca farmers, academics, equestrians and artists and their feedback has been helping Project Wing refine its technology.

Mexican foodchain Guzman y Gomez and pharmacy group Chemist Warehouse have joined the trial and will receive orders from the testers who buy from them using the Project Wing app on their smartphones.

The residents who live on the outskirts of the ACT are about 40 minutes from a shopping centre and as such delivering goods to their doorsteps was a sorely felt need.

A blog post by James Ryan Burgess, a co-lead of Project Wing, said one major need was to train the systems to reliably identify safe and convenient locations.

"We have to incorporate customer preferences — e.g. many of our testers would like packages delivered to backyards so they’re not visible from the road, or near kitchens so food items can be unpacked quickly. And we have to be ready to accommodate changing conditions at the delivery location," Burgess wrote.

drone google

A wing delivery drone flying over Queanbeyan.

Additionally, Project Wing needed to be able to pick up packages from anyone and any location. In the case of Guzman y Gomez, there was a need to learn how much notice needed to be given for a drone arrival.

Burgess said that partnering with Chemist Warehouse would help the project learn how to handle packages of various sizes.

"We know the weeks and months ahead will be filled with unexpected challenges as we undertake these new tests. We’re grateful to the communities in the ACT and Queanbeyan regions who’ve let us into their yards, so we can learn even more about building a delivery network ready to fly in the open skies," he said.

Photos: courtesy Project Wing

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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