Australia’s aviation authority granted regulatory approval for Wing to operate a drone delivery business in Canberra, Australia. Wing is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, and it is set to become the world’s first business to deliver by drone.
Regulators imposed several restrictions including no flying over main roads, and only being allowed to deliver from 7 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and 8 AM to 8 PM on weekends.
According to the company, they will be able to deliver packages to customers within minutes of them placing their order. Initially, Wing will be available to 100 suburban homes, but the company plans to spread further after an initial phase.
Wing will partner with local businesses to deliver their goods and services via drone, and they are projecting their business will bring a boost to the economy somewhere in the region of AUD$30 to 40 million.
Wing anticipates that they will do a lot of business in food delivery, and they believe their business plan will cut down on cost and carbon emissions. They claim they will do 4-6% of all deliveries by 2030.
The aviation regulators said they have evaluated the safety of the drones, their impact on traffic, and other plans have been evaluated.
“All those safety issues have been assessed so there are no risks to people on the ground, property or aircraft in the sky,” Gibson told Guardian Australia.
Wing experimented with the Canberra project for 18 months before receiving approval from Australian regulators to offer the service to the public. The company completed 3,000 deliveries in the pilot stage.
The approval means that Google has beaten Amazon to the market with their competing drone delivery services. Amazon has held several high-profile tests with drone delivery in the UK and US, but they have failed to get approval and offer the service to consumers. Amazon owner Jeff Bezos had previously promised that his company would have a drone delivery service on the market by 2018.
Industry watchers have long expected drone deliveries to become the next step in the online delivery market. With companies like Uber entering the food delivery market, it was only a matter of time before other big tech companies tried to take to air with drones.
Florian Felsing of Techspring said, “we expect a lot of tech products to be delivered via drone in the near future. More people are doing there tech shopping online, especially smaller items used in travel such as tablets, headphones, and e-readers.
Drones are also expected to change the nature of deliveries to more rural areas, where delivery times can be very high and expensive to reach. However, companies like Wing and Amazon are looking to focus on more populated areas first where they can massively cut down delivery times by circumventing traffic.
There have been several drone businesses which make commercial deliveries, and UPS is also looking to bring drone deliveries to the States. Drones have also been frequently used in disaster recovery situations.
But Wing’s business model is the first of its kind to reach the general public, and it could be the first of a storm of drone-delivery businesses to reach the market.