Drone delivery business to expand in Qld and eyeing off other states

Some parts of Australia can now have fast food and groceries delivered by drone, and it’s been revealed more areas are being added.

A company owned by Google parent Alphabet that is revolutionising “last mile” delivery services for fast food, coffee and even items tradies is expanding in Australia this year.

Drone delivery service Wing has taken off in Queensland and the ACT over recent years, starting out in Canberra in 2019 in a world-first.

Homes and commercial premises across the ACT have been able to have curries, burgers, ice cream, groceries, office supplies, pharmacy items, hardware products and even pet treats flown straight to them, with Vietnamese food chain Roll’d last week added to Wing’s delivery network.

The company has been in the sunshine state for two years and in another world first in August, began operating a drone delivery “nest” on the rooftop of Grand Plaza in Logan, south of Brisbane, sending out goods on-demand from a range of businesses at the shopping centre to surrounding suburbs within a 10km radius.

The business boomed last year as the pandemic raged on, with deliveries rocketing more than 600 per cent compared to 2020.

“It’s usually young families who take to the service pretty quickly. When Covid started and people were isolating at home, all of a sudden we saw a big uptake in our service from more elderly people,” spokesman Jesse Suskin told NCA NewsWire on Monday.

“Every lockdown in Canberra and Queensland, of which there were quite a few, we were having hundreds more people sign on to the service.”

Wing has very specific criteria for where it chooses to operate: fast growing, “urban sprawl” areas where residents don’t live within walking distance from their local shops and spend a lot of time in their cars.

“We’ll be in more places in south east Queensland. We’ve submitted for those permissions from our regulators,” Mr Suskin said.

“For other states, we’re actively starting to have those conversations right now.”

With the 5kg styrofoam drones able to carry up to 1.5kg, the service won’t replace the weekly trip to the supermarket, but is ideal for items forgotten by shoppers and later remembered, Mr Suskin says.

“When you realise during the week you’ve forgotten that one item, those things are where we really come into play,” he said.

Staples like milk, bread, eggs and butter are popular, and in Logan, the big seller is whole roasted chickens.

“That’s what they’re running out for,” Mr Suskin said.

As for hardware, the drones deliver to tradies small items such as screws, painter’s tape and line trimmer.

“Stuff you forget to check in your toolbox … what you run out of,” Mr Suskin said.

“They don’t have to take 20 minutes across town in a heavy work truck to pick up … a powerboard, cable ties.

“Sending a 2000kg work truck 15km to pick up screws or tape is not the best use (of resources). Those are the types of car trips or truck trips you really want to avoid.

“And the tradie doesn’t have to drop tools to do a quick run like that.”

Aside from the environmental benefits of not using cars, the speed of drones make them ideal for fresh, hot or cold consumables.

From Grand Plaza, Wing is sending out vast quantities of Boost Juice – a product that “wouldn’t last 5km in the car”.

“One Boost Juice delivered by car is probably not a good use of the car but we can easily deliver that in just a few minutes. It stays cold, the quality is fresh,” Mr Suskin said.

“That Boost Juice can reach customers who might not have been at the shopping centre that day who probably wouldn’t have ordered it by way of other means.

“We really do think this represents the safest, more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, and the quickest way to move something like that.”

Fresh, barista made coffee is also hugely popular.

“We can fit in our delivery box two lattes, two flat whites and two breakfast sandwiches in the morning,” Mr Suskin said.

“And our merchants have found their catalogues fitting quite nicely.”

He said it used more energy to boil water for pasta than for Wing to deliver pasta by drone, with one operator able to “drive” 50 of the autonomous drones, which fly at about 110km/h.

“The entire cost for the whole delivery is significantly less than it would be by any other means. It’s certainly safer if you think of auto accidents and things like that.”

Asked why Wing was soaring to new heights while drone delivery plans by giants such as Amazon and Uber Eats appear to have stalled, Mr Suskin said aviation was a tricky business, rightly heavily regulated.

“Where we’ve had success is we’ve really been solving for a very specific use case … that taking cars off the road to do last mile delivery of small convenience items,” Mr Suskin said.

“We’ve really focused in on that – we haven’t really strayed too far from that vision.


Extracted from News.com.au

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