If ever there was a business made for the coronavirus lockdown and social distancing, it’s Wing’s drone delivery services.
The Google subsidiary marked a year of flights over Gungahlin from its Mitchell base last week, and a spokesperson said there had been growing demand for its services since the restrictions began.
“As the Canberra community confronts the current COVID-19 pandemic, we understand a delivery option that limits the need for human-to-human contact can be helpful, and we’re trying to do what we can to support the communities we serve,” the spokesperson said.
“With Canberrans being encouraged to stay home, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of customers using the service.”
Its customers have even been able to have the elusive toilet paper delivered.
More than 15 businesses have signed with Wing and the company has expanded its offering to include more products for house-bound Canberrans such as more frozen meals and hot food options, and is introducing new items such as colouring pencils and markers for children.
“We’re trying to support local businesses that aren’t able to open their doors by allowing them to deliver their products directly to customers’ homes,” the spokesperson said.
Wing has hundreds of customers in the suburbs where it is permitted to operate – Crace, Franklin, Palmerston and Harrison – and was gradually onboarding new people, the spokesperson said.
It had also taken measures at its Mitchell base to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers, including increasing cleaning and sanitisation, reducing staff on-site during operating hours, requiring non-essential staff to work from home, and enforcing social distancing for staff.
Wing does not release figures on the exact number of deliveries by city but the spokesperson said there had been several thousand in Canberra in the first 12 months of operations.
Wing says that in the year to 9 April, customers had ordered 2000 coffees, drones had flown 20,700 kilometres and 1500 hours worth of trips to the shops had been saved.
Earlier this year, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Infrastructure approved Wing’s operation to fly over Crace, Palmerston, Franklin and Harrison for another year to 31 January 2021.
Conditions, due to noise levels, include a limit of around 60 flights per day per suburb and only in daylight on certain days.
Flights are limited to Tuesday to Friday from 7:30 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. No flights are allowed on public holidays.
Wing is also required to collate all community feedback during the operational period and provide this to the department.
Wing’s trial operation in Tuggeranong was controversial, mainly due to noise and privacy concerns, but quieter drones and a more concerted community outreach program has meant few concerns being raised during its first year at Gungahlin.