2 February 2020

Drones Across Bonython: contention flies high

| Mark Parton MLA
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Drones in Bonython – for or against?

I live in Bonython, the only suburb in the world undergoing a full commercial drone delivery trial. Pretty cool, hey? Well, that’s what I thought and so I signed up to the trial.

Project Wing, a subsidiary of global giant Google is running the trial. They’ve been given a patch of land out west of Tuggeranong Town Centre and for a few months, they’ve been delivering burritos, coffee, headache tablets and chocolates directly to homes in Bonython.

This trial could well shape the future of commercial drone delivery around the world and I was tickled pink that it was happening in my suburb.

As a local member of parliament, I took it upon myself to get fully across the trial. So, a few months ago, I got on the phone app in my front yard and ordered four Guzman Y Gomez burritos. They arrived less than 10 minutes after I made the order. I was blown away.

When the trial was first announced, there were a number of dissenting voices in my local community. These people were against the concept of drone delivery mainly for privacy and safety reasons. I suggested that they should wait and see how it affected them once it was in operation and I figured their opposition would dissipate. I was wrong.

Once the trial commenced, the ‘anti voices’ grew in number and volume. They appealed to me to ‘shut the trial down’, or at least to oppose it in whatever way I could. I had some passionate conversations in shopping centres and online because I wouldn’t back away from supporting the trial. The noise-sensitive folk of Bonython were none too pleased with me, but they still invited me to join their Bonython Against Drones Facebook Group….which I did.

I began to get a sense of the level of frustration in my community. I did a full day doorknocking in Bonython in late October and was further surprised at the level of community objection. Granted mine was a small sample, but I found many more ‘antis’ than I had anticipated. My raw data had six residents strongly in favour of the trial, eight with weak support, four who were indifferent, six who were weakly opposed and 22 who were strongly opposed. The random doorknock survey straddled all demographics.

Interestingly, I knocked on the door of a townhouse down by Stranger Pond and had to explain to the residents what the drone trial was. They’d never heard of it and weren’t aware that it was going on around them. In the townhouse next door, the resident believed that drone delivery was destroying her life and making it impossible for her to live there. I guess everyone’s personal threshold is different.

Project Wing drones sound like a cross between an intense bee swarm and a distant F1 Grand Prix Race.

Please understand that as a resident of Bonython and a supporter of business and innovation, I don’t personally have any qualms with the drone delivery trial. I hear drones flying every week and there are multiple deliveries to my street, but it doesn’t phase me one iota. But the level of community concern about this trial is such that we must re-examine it.

As such, I fully support my colleague Andrew Wall’s push for a Committee Inquiry into drone delivery systems in the ACT. We need to understand the extent of regulatory oversight and the extent of the impact on residents, native animals and domestic animals.

Sometimes technology changes quicker than laws and regulations can change and this could well be one of those instances. I look forward to hearing from all interested parties.

What are your thoughts on drone deliveries in Bonython – or Canberra? Comment below.

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Interesting that new Scientist reported that NASA found the low frequency noise of Drone’s was much worse than other vehicles at the same decibel level.

A lot of peer reviewed research is available, so I would encourage people to form their own opinions before approving or disapproving of Drone delivery.

I hope the ACT Politicians who approved the trial, read the expert analysis that said a lot more work needs to be done to reduce Drone noise before delivery services begin.

I’m all for better use of technology for the future, but I’m not sure the ACT Government should have allowed the good people of Bonython to be used as guineapigs by Google and Project Wing.

New Scientist

NASA report

Jackson Bond5:15 pm 07 Nov 18

Going on previous actions, it’s highly unlikely that ACT Politicians will read a review, follow expert advise or even take note of community views on anything at all.

Capital Retro8:57 pm 07 Nov 18

No one seems to care about the low frequency noises of wind turbines but they are on “farms” aren’t they.

A 12g trap gun will handle this problem.

Only suburb in the world hey?

What about the Amazon Prime trials in the UK or is the UK not in this world anymore? Thought it was only the EU they were Brexeting.

christine4shaw10:33 pm 05 Nov 18

I can understand the fait acompli logic this is going to happen, just as horse and buggy owners opposed the motor car. I can even see the service being practical for medicine delivery for a parent who can’t easily leave the house. However, I do wonder how the “convenience” logic of takeaway can stand scrutiny if our communities are getting more obese, shouldn’t we be promoting walking to the local shops to buy the takeaway? (So short from Bonython!) Also concerned on whatever numbers are available on politically correct speech of “unscheduled landings”. Can the assessment be serious please in the eventual report – these are crashes aren’t they, with either birds or something else not identified? 14 active rotors crashing into a child or adult would be horrendous – so does this mean staying above roadways ? That then opens up the question of crashing into cars…… very difficult public policy risk assessment which means the public liability premium for those businesses who use this service might make this cost prohibitive?

That picture is a stock photo of a drone. The Bonython ones are quite large fixed-wing aircraft. In fact they aren’t drones at all, they are fully-fledged light aircraft.

Capital Retro7:28 am 06 Nov 18

Indeed it is.

It has a fixed wing with vertical take-off and landing via rotors.

Nice picture of a recreational drone on this article. Truth is the drones that project wing are using have 14 rotors on them and are over a metre long which make them sound like an F1 car. When you get 50 of these over your house each day on the weekend, it’s a friggin nightmare. They say they’re an eco friendly way of delivering food, tell that to the bird life that isn’t around anymore, let alone it drives the dogs nuts. I work pretty early during the week just to be woken up by drones on the weekend.
I get that some think it’s cool and I’m sure it’s a novelty for some, but if this trial gets off the ground ( no pun intended), it is going to have a massive impact on the peaceful way of life that we used to enjoy. CASA have signed off on the trial from a safety aspect, but there has already been incidents of “ unscheduled landings”.
Drones have their place and the technology is amazing, but to be used to deliver burritos and coffee at the expense of what used to be a peaceful suburb is ridiculous and we don’t need them here for that.

Well said Paul, you’ve covered everything. The drones started up at 9.13 am this morning (Sunday 4th Nov.), and already this morning (it’s 11.15 am) we’ve had 26 drones over our complex! On Sunday 7th October we had 22 drones between 9.20 am and 3.08pm.

Capital Retro5:53 pm 01 Nov 18

The drone image depicted in this earlier Riot Act article https://the-riotact.com/drone-delivery-service-looking-for-permanent-home-in-the-act-despite-noise-complaints/267723 is more like a large, fixed wing, rotor assisted radio-controlled aircraft than a standard drone with 4 or 6 rotors only.

This being the case I am surprised that the government aviation authorities have allowed it to fly anywhere over residential areas.

It is only a matter of time until it collides with a bird or power-line and I wouldn’t like to be under that.

The pitch and volume of drone noise can be tailored by using different propellers (or even ducted fans) and flying higher, or tailoring routes to avoid complainers.

Was there a consistent theme in the complaints — such as noise level — or were the complaints varied such as noise volume, times of operation, fears of injuries from falling drones, or concern about the drones participating in pervasive surveillance?

Mark Parton MLA12:20 pm 05 Nov 18

Most of the complaints from door knocking were about noise level and the pitch of the noise. From my reading, although there are some concerns about privacy and also potential for injury and effect on wildlife, the vast majority of opposition comes from the noise.

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