The future of drone delivery has expanded even further in Australia after Coles announced it would work with Google Wing to fly packages on the Gold Coast.
The expansion of the service in November will allow consumers in the suburbs of Ormeau and Ormeau Hills to order a range of groceries from its Ormeau Village store.
Wing launched commercially in 2019 and currently allows for the delivery of packages that weigh less than 1.5 kilograms from a variety of shops that sell household and perishable goods, including coffees and sandwiches. It currently operates in the ACT, Logan, and will soon move into Ipswich.
The new Gold Coast deal means the drones will take off from the supermarket’s car park and fly direct to customers’ homes. Coles staff will process and pack orders before Wing employees load the packages onto the drones.
The Coles-Wing partnership was first trialled in Canberra in March this year, which has since seen over 5,000 deliveries made.
Coles’ head of customer delivery, James Geddes, said “The service will provide a convenient and effective way of delivering everyday essentials to our customers’ homes in a matter of minutes.”
The move to delivering “store-to-door” follows Wing shifting from just launching its drones from its own large distribution centres to picking up packages from the roof of a Logan shopping mall. The development was significant because, previously, retailers had to co-locate with Wing rather than being able to work from their own outlets.
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.
The business now conducts more deliveries in Australia than in any other country and has previously dubbed Logan the “drone delivery capital of the world”.
Australian Aviation print magazine featured an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at its operation last year, which Premium Content subscribers can read here. We then took another look at its evolution into delivering from retail premises in our drone In Focus digital edition.