The Plan To Deliver Coffee By Drone In Australia

Too busy to make yourself a coffee? Even worse, out of beans? As usual, Google is here to help. Well, that depends on where you live or work. If you live or work in a handful of fairly random locations around the world, Google’s drone delivery service, Wing, will happily deliver a coffee to your doorstep.

Wing is now delivering coffees around selected suburbs in Canberra & southeast Queensland. Photo: Wing

Google X spawned Wing

Wing is a drone delivery company owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Wing began as a Google X project. Google X is an innovation lab that now also operates as a subsidiary of Alphabet. Wing has since broken away from Google X and now operates as a standalone business unit.

Powering Wing are the drones developed in-house and an unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform. According to Wing’s website.

“Wing is an autonomous delivery drone service aiming to increase access to goods, reduce traffic congestion in cities, and help ease the CO2 emissions attributable to the transportation of goods.

“Wing is also developing an unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform that will allow unmanned aircraft to navigate around other drones, manned aircraft, and other obstacles like trees, buildings, and power lines.”

The Google X program developed Wing’s drones. Photo: Wing

Wing’s drone delivery expands to more suburbs in Queensland’s southeast

Operating in specific locations in Helsinki, the United States, and Australia, Wing’s drones can fly up to 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms) around the neighborhood. They’ve been flying in Canberra since 2019, and according to a report in Australian Aviation, they’ve since expanded their operation in Australia to include Logan and surrounding suburbs in southeast Queensland.

“Wing is now available in more than a dozen suburbs in Logan, including drone delivery to customers in parts of Loganlea, Waterford West, Slacks Creek, Logan Central, Woodridge, Kingston, Park Ridge, Browns Plains, Heritage Park, and Regents Park,” a spokesperson told Australian Aviation.

Retailers use Wing’s drones to deliver goods up to the weight limit. While the drones can fly a variety of goods – fresh croissants, emergency supplies of chocolate, or batteries for the TV remote, Wing says coffee is the most in-demand delivery item from those who have downloaded Wing’s app.

Wing’s drones fly at a height of about 50 meters. Photo: Wing

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Coffee is Wing’s biggest delivery item

“We’re not surprised,” Terrance Bouldin-Johnson, Head of Australian Operations at Wing, told BeanScene magazine last summer. The coffee seller, like all retailers signed up to Wing, securely loads the coffee into the drone. At the delivery address, the drone “gently” lowers the package to the ground. Kind of like Uber Eats, but with some flair.

“I did one shift where someone on the Wing app got two coffees delivered. Within minutes, we had another five or six orders to the same address come in because their neighbors must have seen it, and getting coffee delivered too,” one Queensland coffee seller told BeanScene. “That started from one household. As they realize the convenience of it, everybody is going to jump onboard.”

Fourteen propellers power Wing’s electric drones, nearly all of which are top-mounted. Wing developed the drones in-house. Powered by electric batteries, the drones take off vertically and then enter a forward-flight phase. The UTM determines the optimal flight path to the delivery address. Wing’s drones fly at around 50 meters.

Fixed black and white cameras detect and analyze shapes, helping to navigate unforeseen obstacles. To ensure safety while flying over populated areas, redundant systems such as extra batteries and propellers are built into the drone to ensure the flight can continue if an operating part fails.

“We always try to be innovative in the way we operate as a business and interact with the community. If you look at the way technology is headed, drone delivery is going to happen,” the Queensland coffee seller says. “Where it’s excelling is people getting really excited by the idea of being home on a Sunday morning and having a coffee show up on their doorstep.