Aspiring drone delivery operator Wing has unveiled its new quieter propeller system in the wake of complaints from its Bonython trial which were overwhelmingly about noise.
The Alphabet subsidiary demonstrated the difference at its testing ground in Tuggeranong on Friday (8 March), flying drones with the old and new propellers.
Region Media‘s camera was 20 metres away, which Wing said reflected the typical spacing of blocks in residential areas of Canberra and what the experience would be for a next-door neighbour witnessing a delivery.
The signature high-pitched whine that so antagonised residents in Bonython has been replaced by a lower frequency sound, but whether it will be enough to placate some remains to be seen.
Fresh from a grilling at the Legislative Assembly inquiry into drone delivery earlier in the week, Wing CEO James Burgess said it was a pretty significant reduction in noise.
“You can notice right away that not only is it quieter but the tone of the propellers is greatly reduced and frequency pitch has been reduced quite substantially,” he said.
After the torrid reception that Wing received in Bonython, which saw the issue taken to the Federal Parliament and a committee inquiry launched in the Assembly, Wing has been keen to respond and resolve the noise issue before embarking on its Gungahlin operation out if its new Mitchell base.
“We’re hopeful that the community in Mitchell and Gungahlin will appreciate the change, given the feedback from Bonython,” Mr Burgess said.
He said Wing would continue to improve the sound and other aspects of the delivery system.
Aspiring drone delivery operator Wing unveiled its new quieter propeller system in the wake of complaints from its Bonython trial which were overwhelmingly about noise. Hear what CEO James Burgess has to say about the quieter drones and watch it take to the skies in the video below.
Posted by The RiotACT on Monday, 11 March 2019
Mr Burgess said that besides noise, the other major takeout from the Bonython trial was the need for greater consultation with the community which had prompted a more rigorous approach to its outreach in Gungahlin.
He said Wing was in talks with multiple merchants in the area and hoped to have more than two dozen sign up, half of which were local businesses, once operations started in Gungahlin.
But first, Wing needed its development application approved for the Mitchell base, approvals from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and more community consultation before a start date could be announced.
Mr Burgess said he wanted it to be as transparent and open as possible and was working with independent consultants to provide objective data and measurements on issues such as noise and the impact on birdlife.
Wing supported any regulatory framework at an ACT or Commonwealth level that enabled community feedback.
The company was not looking to scale too quickly.
“We are taking a staged approach, we are investing in Canberra and setting up our operation base Mitchell. Our operations will grow a step at a time. We want to make sure we take into account sensitivities and feedback from community.”