New no-drones group has Gungahlin trial in sights

Ian Bushnell 7 February 2019 34

Drone deliveries will soon be trialled in Gungahlin’s suburbs. Photo: Wing.

With the winding up of the Bonython drone delivery trial this week, another community-based lobby group will be taking on the company planning to put its fleet of tiny aircraft into the skies over Gungahlin this year.

Bonython Against Drones led the charge against the trial, which attracted national attention in the Federal Parliament and generated a Legislative Assembly petition and inquiry.

Now a Canberra-wide group,, with the slogan ‘Tell ’em to buzz off’, will be focusing on Google subsidiary Wing’s plans for a trial over Gungahlin’s suburbs. The company now has a base in Mitchell, which it will fit out to house and service its fleet of drones.

CEO of Wing, James Ryan Burgess said in a statement that the company’s focus would now turn towards building a world-first ongoing drone delivery operation in Mitchell.

“Our core focus will be on continuing to talk to the residents and businesses in Crace, Palmerston, Harrison, Franklin and Gungahlin to get their input on how we should best operate our drone delivery service in the area,” he said.

“As we wrap up our trial in Bonython, we’re grateful to the testers who helped us shape our service, and the Bonython community for their willingness to engage in a constructive discussion about this new technology and to provide feedback that has enabled us to improve our service.”

But the Bonython group has called the trial a failure and expressed relief that life has returned to normal, and warned Gungahlin residents of the noise and invasion of privacy they will now face.

Below is a video posted on their website.

A spokesperson for, Jon Reynolds, said the group would concentrate on areas where people will be adversely affected by commercial drone operations and technology.

It wanted clear government responsibility and appropriate legislation and regulation to control aspects of commercial drone operations such as noise, privacy and safety issues, and impact on the environment.

He said the group would mount a general awareness campaign, promote community activity and participation, and make a submission to the Assembly inquiry.

“With Tuggeranong trial operations now concluded and commercial operations anticipated to commence shortly in the Gungahlin district, primary focus will be on the affected areas,” he said.

Mr Reynolds said the group was open to all sectors of the community who shared concerns about the current lack of clear legislation, regulation and delineation of government agency responsibility (both Federal and local), the commercial use of drone technology and how it may negatively impact the predominately residential community.

Asked whether would be engaging with Wing, he said the group did not have blanket opposition to drones and would engage with any potential commercial operator.

“Commercial drone operations for specific purposes definitely have a place in Canberra,” he said.

“For example, we understand that Evoenergy is proposing to use commercial drone technology to inspect power lines. This is far more cost-effective than having teams manually inspect infrastructure from the ground. It is also cheaper and allows closer inspection than can be achieved by helicopter.

“The key difference here is that inspection would be occurring relatively infrequently, and impacted individuals can be given advance notice as compared to an ongoing commercial drone delivery service.”

Wing has already flagged that its next generation of drones will be quieter in response to the Bonython complaints but Mr Reynolds said feedback from demonstrations of the new propeller design was that while the tone or pitch of the noise may have changed there was no indication that noise levels had been significantly reduced.

Mr Reynolds said Wing’s stated ambitious aim of 600,000 drone-delivery-related transactions by 2030 would result in a significant number of drone overflights on a daily basis, far in excess of the number of general aviation flights that occur over the ACT, where there were already strict controls on permissible aircraft noise.

He also questioned Wing’s claim of environmental benefits, saying with a current ‘payload’ of about two kilograms he doubted whether there ever was a huge demand for “single burritos, packets of aspirin and individual café lattes to be delivered by road, and then even less likely during peak traffic hours”.

He said that if the ACT Government was serious about reducing vehicle emissions, it could mandate that all new commercial delivery vehicles be electric.

Mr Reynolds said the benefits of such disruptive innovation depended on one’s perspective but in this situation, consumers who opted out of the service would still have to put up with the negative impacts.

“Potentially they have commercial drones flying over their residential properties, creating excessive noise, and invading their privacy regardless of whether they are partaking in the service or not,” he said.

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34 Responses to New no-drones group has Gungahlin trial in sights
Louise Anne Louise Anne 6:49 pm 07 Feb 19

😫 that noise over your house!

Guy Manton Guy Manton 7:15 pm 07 Feb 19

My only beef is they dont service Moncrieff dangit!

Rory Maguire Rory Maguire 7:35 pm 07 Feb 19

Looking forward to them.

Rastislav Zrelak Rastislav Zrelak 8:09 pm 07 Feb 19

Lady from Bonython told me that all birds, kangaroos and other animal dissapeared from Bonython during testing and also few awkward pictures and videos has been taken too. No drones, all deliveries drivers will lose their jobs. 👎👎👎

    David Pollard David Pollard 10:37 pm 07 Feb 19

    I went to the Bonython drone site for a demo the other day and asked about the birds and wildlife (among other questions). Literally while talking about birds in the middle of their site, a flock of birds flew over and around the site. It’s anecdotal, but those birds certainly didn’t seem bothered by the drones.

    Brett Griffiths Brett Griffiths 11:59 pm 07 Feb 19

    Rastislav Zrelak noisy as hell, we had to leave Trevor Kaine park due to screaming drones coming overhead every 5 to 15 minutes or so! Couldn’t enjoy the play equipment with the grandkids. The grandchildren said that they (drones) hurt their ears and would put their hands over them, children have different frequencies they hear to adults so that may explain their added sensitivity to them

    AA-Ron Kelly AA-Ron Kelly 7:09 am 08 Feb 19

    So how would one know if awkward photos or videos have been taken? These drones would fly by GPS, they can't really stop and hover outside someones window

    Rastislav Zrelak Rastislav Zrelak 2:22 am 09 Feb 19

    not sure how

Lisa Shiels Lisa Shiels 8:13 pm 07 Feb 19

I think it’s a great idea

Jane Farrugia Jane Farrugia 9:17 pm 07 Feb 19

They’re noisy, & intrusive. I certainly don’t want them in my suburb.

Deborah Hammett Deborah Hammett 9:41 pm 07 Feb 19

Who do they think they are, getting in the way of the future!! I hate to say peoples...the future will win every time! So get used to it.😁

    Matt Wass Matt Wass 9:47 am 08 Feb 19

    How dare people develop a delivery solution that will reduce traffic congestion and green house gas emissions...

    Marc Edwards Marc Edwards 9:29 pm 08 Feb 19

    how dare they develop a delivery solution that will ultimately lead to a further increase in unemployment for 17 to 24 year old’s.

    Sarah West Sarah West 9:14 pm 09 Feb 19

    Deborah Hammett looking forward to seeing how you feel when this noisy thing flies past your bedroom window 10 times on a Sunday morning. Innovation should make people’s lives better, not worse. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. We’ll be glad to see the end of it in Bonython.

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 9:57 pm 07 Feb 19

Whingers will whinge

Mat Barber Mat Barber 10:06 pm 07 Feb 19

It can’t be any louder than the stupid Elements 4 Life gym in Harrison which regularly blasts music from their gym clearly not caring about all the residents above who can hear the music pounding through their floors at all ours of the day.

David Pollard David Pollard 11:10 pm 07 Feb 19

Slight correction to the article and title - the word “trial” is incorrect and probably misleading. Wing have completed their trial and are moving on to commercial operations.

They have committed to working with the community (and so far have been very open with my community groups) to continue to develop their business and tech, but it isn’t a trial anymore.

    Nev Sheather Nev Sheather 6:41 pm 08 Feb 19

    David Pollard sorry David, Wing have been secretive, have not met with Bonython group, have refused to share feedback, have not listened to us Bonython residents, the great majority (80%against from extensive door knock). Wing, being Google, are not working with us !

    David Pollard David Pollard 8:55 pm 08 Feb 19

    Nev Sheather even though I’ve had a good experience with the *people* involved, we haven’t had an active drone presence up here yet, and I truely appreciate the passion you have put in to standing up for your community. I have absolutely taken all the lessons you have learned and graciously passed on to us to heart.

    My only interest is to keep the lines of communication between Wing and the community open, and to make sure Wing hears what our community wants to say, whatever that is.

    Nev Sheather Nev Sheather 9:05 pm 08 Feb 19

    David Pollard appreciate, but we have approached them and get nowhere!

    Brandon Primrose Brandon Primrose 9:43 pm 09 Feb 19

    so you are saying 8 out of 10 oppose this in Bonython. The other 20% must really utilize it then to make it a viable business.

    Julie Cutts Julie Cutts 10:08 pm 09 Feb 19

    David Pollard wing is only interested in communication if it reflects what they want. They don’t consult, they don’t respond to emails or requests for information and they purport in the media and to CASA and the politicians that everyone loves them except for a disgruntled few. They don’t back their claims with evidence.

Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 10:39 pm 08 Feb 19

Sign me up. These things need a lot more thought, control and regulation before they are just allowed to ruin every one else's lives.

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:04 pm 08 Feb 19

I wonder what they are delivering most of. Mainly cups of coffee? Or mainly more necessary things such as medicine? I suspect the cups of coffee in plastic/paper cups that won't be recycled. The sort of people who would think this cool, would also think it cool to order a coffee in disposable cup and not think any about it than that. Be interesting to see the actual list of what has been sent, to see if this service is useful, or just decadent indulgence.

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