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World-first as Google drones deliver from Queensland mall

written by Adam Thorn | October 7, 2021
In the new issue of the Australian Aviation print magazine, we take an exclusive look at Google’s plans to conquer drone delivery.

Google Wing drones are now picking up packages from the roof of a shopping mall in Logan, Queensland to deliver to customers in the area.

The development – which Australian Aviation exclusively revealed was on the cards in August – is hugely significant because previously, retailers had to co-locate in the tech giant’s distribution centres.

Wing launched commercially in Canberra and Logan in 2019 and currently allows for the delivery of packages that weigh less than 1.5 kilograms from a variety of vendors who sell household and perishable goods, including coffees and sandwiches. Wing now conducts more deliveries in Australia than in any other country worldwide.

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In the latest issue of the Australian Aviation print magazine, we take an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Google Wing’s operation. To find out more and subscribe, click here.

The new development means Wing drones are now picking up packages from the roof of the Grand Plaza in Logan, Queensland to deliver to both residential homes and offices.

Shops within the mall to participate include Sushi HubBoost Juice and Chatime and from today, TerryWhite Chemmart will also start offering delivery of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and beauty products.

“In the first six weeks of service, Wing made more than 2,500 contactless drone deliveries from Grand Plaza to customers in parts of the Logan suburbs of Regents Park, Heritage Park, Park Ridge, Browns Plains, Marsden, Crestmead and Berrinba,” said Wing in a statement. “The service will soon expand to more customers and offer delivery from other businesses located at the centre.”

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Justin Mills, from mall owner Vicinity Centres, said the partnership with Wing shows how the retail industry is changing.

“Almost two-thirds of Australia’s population live within 30 minutes of one of our 61 strategically located centres,” said Mills. “This national footprint provides a strong foundation to implement our distribution and fulfilment strategy by rapidly scaling our drone delivery partnership with Wing and further developing our co-located logistics hubs and micro fulfilment centres.

“Exploring new technologies like drone delivery means our retailers may provide customers with game-changing product deliveries in minutes rather than days, while also reducing their carbon footprint.”

Click to enlarge: Google Wing drones pick up packages from the roof of the Grand Plaza mall in Logan, Queensland

Wing started life in 2012 as one of the first projects at the tech giant’s super-secretive research lab, Google X, alongside its augmented reality eyeglasses and self-driving cars. It launched its first trials in 2018 before starting more commercial flights the following year in both Canberra and Logan.

Once a customer submits an order via the app, the drone flies to pick up the package at the designated delivery centre, before climbing to a cruise height of 45 metres and flying to the destination.

Once there, it hovers and lowers the package to the ground, automatically unclipping the parcel without assistance from the customer.

Australian Aviation also previously reported how Google Wing delivery drones delivered 1,200 hot chickens in Logan within just 12 months.

Jesse Suskin, the business head of government relations said, “From Wing’s early days delivering to a small group of customers in two suburbs in 2019, we’re now making thousands of deliveries each week to 19 suburbs, with a combined population of more than 110,000 people.

“Wing saw a 500 per cent increase in deliveries worldwide in 2020 over 2019, and we’ve continued to grow at a similar rate in 2021; we completed more deliveries globally in the second quarter of 2021 than in the entire year of 2020.”

Suskin also said Wing has already made more than 50,000 deliveries within Logan in 2021, with almost 4,500 deliveries in a single week in early August as the city entered lockdown.

“We heard from a number of customers that they found on-demand drone delivery especially useful as they stayed home and relied on our contactless service to deliver the things they needed,” he said.

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