The company looking to trial its drone delivery service in Gungahlin next year has lodged a development application for a Mitchell warehouse that will be its permanent base in Canberra.
Alphabet subsidiary Wing, which has been trialling a drone service in Canberra’s south in Bonython, intends to use the 9600m2 site in Vicars Street as its first long-term base of operations.
An already approved warehouse is nearing completion and Wing says it requires a few slight modifications so it can be made into a drone delivery facility.
Wing says that operating in a properly-zoned industrial area will allow it to provide a better service to local customers and to create more economic opportunities for local businesses while showcasing what a future of faster, safer and more environmentally-responsible delivery service looks like.
The DA says the existing warehouse will be retrofitted to accommodate Wing’s drones and drone charging pads.
Wing also plans to co-locate its drone operations at the Mitchell site with a small number of food merchants, health and over-the-counter medicine merchants, as well as small businesses from the Mitchell and Gungahlin area. This requires a change to the Building Classification from Class 7b (warehouse) to Class 8 (factory).
“Co-locating these merchants next to a drone operating area will allow Wing to deliver goods to customers more quickly, minimising drone flight times, and allow Canberra businesses to reach customers in a new way,” Wing says.
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Other modifications include minor amendments to the primary façade fronting Vicars Street, reducing the existing plant room/store, constructing a new pump room and above ground water tank, relocating and enlarging the waste enclosure and installing additional site services.
Wing has been trialling its service in Bonython in Canberra’s south, prompting concerns about noise and privacy that have reached the Federal Parliament and prompted a Legislative Assembly committee inquiry into drone delivery. This week, a petition from Bonython residents opposed to drones was tabled in the Assembly.
Wing says it is listening to these concerns, investing in quieter aircraft and trying to allay privacy concerns.
It has already started consultation with Gungahlin businesses and residents and will continue over December, with events at Crace Christmas Carnival on 1 December from 4 pm, the Gungahlin Marketplace on Friday 7 December from 10-2 pm and 4-6 pm, and the Gungahlin Marketplace on Saturday 8 December from 9.30 am-1.30 pm.
“As Wing establishes its longer-term site, our priority is to listen to the residents of Canberra – particularly those in Franklin, Harrison, Crace, Gungahlin and Palmerston where we hope to be operating – to understand their preferences, questions and concerns before we begin operating,” Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess said.
Wing says new research commissioned shows that drone delivery will save three million hours by replacing customer pick-up journeys, and $5 million in delivery costs by 2030.
It also says it will expand choice for consumers by giving them up to four times as many merchants by bringing more retailers within delivery range of their home or workplace.
The company says that over the past 18 months, it has completed more than 2000 deliveries of food, small convenience items and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals to the homes of hundreds of residents in the Fernleigh Park, Royalla and Tuggeranong communities in three separate trials.