Alphabet’s Project Wing, the automated drone delivery service, has been making tons of progress lately. It’s now delivering burritos and medicine to customers in Australia!
The Project Wing team is now testing its drone delivery tech in a rural community on the border of the ACT and NSW, and is delivering goods right to people’s yards. Project Wing has just announced two new Australian merchants that are joining the tests: Guzman y Gomez, a Mexican food chain, and Chemist Warehouse, a pharmacy chain. Once these businesses receive orders from customers through the Project Wing smartphone app, they’ll dispatch drones to pick up the order from loading sites and deliver the goods to testers at their residences.
Australia is the perfect place for testing: Many residents on the outskirts of the ACT, the area where Alphabet’s X is performing tests, face a 40-minute round trip in the car for almost everything, whether it’s groceries or a cup of coffee. The participants are giving the Project Wing team great advice on how to refine the service. Some people say they want to be able to receive fresh meals at dinner time, while others say they want to be able to send packages from their doorstep. Almost everyone said they’d value having medicine delivered to their door, especially when they’re sick.
It’s not just for consumers: Project Wing makes sense for both consumers who order things from the internet and for people who need supplies at a moment’s notice. That’s why, as part of Project Wing’s upcoming tests, the team will help the Australian Capital Territory Rural Fire Service access how the technology could aid their efforts.
Project Wing has improved a lot over the years: Last year, during Project Wing’s tests at Virginia Tech, the drones were only able to deliver packages in an open field, not to a specific location. Now the drones are able to detect yard spaces, trees, sheds, fences, and power lines. In fact, they can now deliver almost anywhere — backyards, parks, or farmlands.
Customer preference is a big challenge: Project Wing is still in the works, though, and one of the biggest challenges is customer preference. Many testers would like packages delivered to backyards so they’re not as likely to be taken from the front. Customers also want food items delivered close to the kitchen door so food can be unpacked quickly. Google needs to be ready to accommodate different customers for each location.