Australian aviation authority Casa approves Alphabet’s Project Wing, which delivers food, drinks and medication
A world-first drone delivery business has been granted approval to take to the skies over Canberra’s north.
For the past 18 months, Project Wing, an offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been trialling drone delivery of food and drinks, medication and locally-made coffee and chocolate.
The aviation watchdog confirmed on Tuesday it had signed off on the scheme. The Casa spokesman Peter Gibson said the safety of the drones, traffic management system, maintenance, drone pilot training and operational plans have been examined.
“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.
He said the approval has been granted with strict conditions including daylight operating hours.
The drones are banned from crossing over major roads and there’s a minimum distance they have to maintain from people on the ground.
During the trial, noise from the unmanned aircraft upset some nearby residents who claimed it could be heard through double-glazed windows.
Gibson said Casa did consider noise issues as part of the approval process.
The drone delivery service is expected to start with 100 eligible homes in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin in the coming weeks, before expanding into Harrison and Gungahlin.
The company estimates that at scale, drone delivery could add $30m to $40m in additional annual revenue for ACT businesses.
It is trumpeting delivery cost reductions as well as reduced carbon emissions and predicts drones could deliver more than one in four take-away food orders, and up to 4-6% of all purchases in the ACT by 2030.