3 December 2018

Take a look at Wing's new drone delivery base in Mitchell

| Ian Bushnell
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A rendering of Wing’s planned drone delivery facility in Mitchell. Image: Supplied.

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.

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.

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I was quite surprised that all the comments so far have been so negative. I don’t necessarily disagree but I’m willing to be the same type or reaction happened when those damn noisey horseless carriage contraptions showed up as well.

Perhaps we can have another aircraft in front of them with a red flag warning everybody that it is approaching …

How far will spray from a garden hose -oops! – reach?

Jackson Bond4:57 am 03 Dec 18

“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 ”

I cant tell you exactly what the majority will say. But I guarantee you won’t like it (or listen).

NoDrone.Zone11:23 pm 02 Dec 18

The problem with Wing is not that they are delivering a new disruptive service, the problem is there is scant legislation and regulation to ensure that what they are doing is properly controlled and ensure that it will not adversely impact the community as a whole.

Other new disruptive services such as Uber and AirBnB have not had a direct impact on the general community. Whilst these new disruptive operators have had an appreciable impact on the operator/owners of traditional services (especially in terms of being new competition), for the most part the wider non-participating community are not adversely impacted.

However, with Wing’s drone-based deliveries there is an undeniable direct impact on every residential property underneath one of the drone flight paths. There are the unresolved issues of noise, privacy and ultimately safety.

Wing makes assurances that it is operating within the current legislative framework and guidelines and further claims that it will minimise noise, ensure (data) privacy and provide a safe service… but the mere fact that there are currently minimal controls in place means that this cannot be enforced.

The DA they have lodged will likely be approved (if not “called in”) simply because it is nothing more than minor changes to an existing development and land use clauses. Simply stated the planning authorities do not have the power to stop or limit a drone delivery service, or the way that the service will be provided outside the property boundaries.

The affected community needs to act in a coordinated manner to lobby the government to ensure that appropriate controls are put in place so that Wing will be forced to be a good corporate citizen and not adversely impact the greater community.

Over time we will be building our community at https://NoDrone.Zone

Before the trial has been analysed and before the ACT Government and CASA have given permission for this to proceed? They are suspiciously confident – already a done deal, Mr Barr?

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