Google Wing drones have resumed delivering packages in the Canberra suburb of Harrison after the devices were attacked by a pair of ravens.
The business commissioned a local ornithologist, Neil Hermes, to study the birds and discovered they were protecting three chicks nesting in a tree. Now they’ve fledged, operations in the area have resumed.
This incredible video, below, shows the moment the ravens swooped towards the drone, pecking it in mid-air.
Hermes, however, told the ABC the ravens’ behaviour was entirely normal, “They were approaching the drones from behind, like they would if it were a wedge-tailed eagle or another predator, and trying to grab it from the back — the tail of the bird — and trying to just encourage it to leave.
“The birds were defending their young in their nest, during that time when their defensive reactions are at their peak, and it lasted about four or five weeks.”
Wing said it was committed to being strong stewards of the environment and would continue to take advice from ornithological experts.
The devices first launched commercially in Canberra and Logan in 2019 and currently allow for the delivery of packages that weigh less than 1.5 kilograms, including coffees and sandwiches. Wing now conducts more deliveries in Australia than in any other country worldwide.
The drones 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.
In October, Australian Aviation reported how Wing’s drones are now picking up packages from the roof of a shopping mall to deliver to customers in the area.
The development is hugely significant because previously, retailers had to co-locate in the tech giant’s distribution centres.
To read more about Google Wing and drone delivery, read our exclusive feature in the Australian Aviation print magazine. To find out more and subscribe, click here.