Drone-delivery leader Wing has been testing a service in the Australian city of Logan since 2019 and in that time has used its flying machines to make more than 100,000 deliveries.
Until recently, all of its drones operated from a station constructed on its own dedicated plot of land, but recently the Alphabet-owned company hit on the idea of building a new station on the roof of a shopping mall.
The move makes perfect sense and will leave many who follow such developments wondering why Wing didn’t do it before. After all, as the company itself points out, setting up at a shopping mall offers direct and faster access to participating businesses, enabling Wing to increase the number of products that it can fly to customers.
It also allows Wing to reduce the size of its operational footprint and save money on building new facilities, and at the same time make good use of a space that is often underutilized.
Wing started the mall operation a couple of months ago and has already made around 2,500 contactless deliveries straight from the rooftop of the Grand Plaza shopping center in Logan City to customers living within several miles of the site.
Wing’s new drone station on the roof of a shopping mall in Logan City, Australia. Wing
Up til now, the deliveries have comprised mostly snacks and drinks, but starting this week, the service is expanding to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, personal care, general health, and beauty products. “All are retailers located at Grand Plaza, now with the ability to reach even more people in the surrounding communities,” Wing said in a blog post announcing the expansion of its service.
It added: “Because almost every business has a roof, our new rooftop delivery model opens up the possibility for more businesses to offer drone delivery services with little additional cost or added infrastructure.”
Shoppers in Wing’s ongoing pilot scheme are able to place an order via a mobile app. Minutes later, the customer receives a notification to let them know the drone is approaching their premises. Wing’s autonomous aircraft will then hover over its destination address and lower the ordered item on a tether. After the customer has taken the item, the tether retracts and the drone returns to base.
While many have welcomed the trial service, some have complained about the level of noise made by the drones. The complaints prompted Wing engineers to design quieter machines, with the new models already taking test flights.