ACT News

Save
Print

Google company Project Wing looking to expand testing in Canberra region

Google sister company Project Wing is seeking approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to extend their approved testing distance within Australia.

The US company hope CASA will grant approval to fly beyond one kilometre and staff will search the region for a suitable new test site.

Project Wing just completed a two week test of their autonomous drone delivery system with the help of residents in Googong.

During the two week period the drones flew within one kilometre while always in a pilot's line of sight in case of emergency.

CASA's Peter Gibson said the main issue with granting further approval was the line of sight requirement. Basic drone regulations in Australia enforce a line of sight rule for all drone operators.

Commercial operators are able to seek approval to operate drones not in visual line of sight and CASA grants these on a case by case basis once risks are identified and mitigation strategies are in place.

Advertisement

Project Wing use the operator licence of Brisbane-based Unmanned Systems Australia and Mr Gibson said that CASA "look forward to assessing their application."

A spokeswoman for Project Wing said there would be no changes sought to the restrictions that their drones may not fly within 15 metres of people or property who provided consent.

James Ryan Burgess, Co-Lead of Project Wing, said before testing began that the company "want to give all our devotion and attention to this area".

He also signalled an intention to eventually test in Canberra but there has been no updates on a timeline for that.

Despite early concerns from some residents and Canberra Airport, the company are pleased with the outcome of the testing.

The spokeswoman said the residents involved in the test, which involved six households, provided valuable feedback that will shape the project moving forward.

"We're really grateful to the Fernleigh Park community for being so hospitable and giving their feedback," she said.

The most common feedback returned was that residents would find receiving meals and medicine via drones most useful.

There were also criticisms that the specially-designed packaging was too difficult to open and the smartphone app needed improvement.

This feedback has been delivered to engineers in California to be implemented in future tests. The company tests the technology daily at its facility in California's Central Valley, however the most advanced testing with participants occurred in Googong.