Drone delivery service to fly to Canberra's northern suburbs
Advertisement

Drone delivery service to fly to Canberra's northern suburbs

Canberra's northern suburbs are set to become home to a permanent, world-leading household drone delivery service, Fairfax Media can reveal.

Tech company Wing, which is trialling drone deliveries of food and chemist supplies in Tuggeranong, has secured a warehouse in Mitchell as a full-time base for its service.

It plans to initially offer deliveries to homes and businesses in nearby Gungahlin, Palmerston, Harrison, Crace and Franklin, with a long-term view of operating flights throughout Canberra, as well as other cities and towns across Australia.

Plans for the permanent delivery service - which Wing is spruiking as a world first - come after the ACT Assembly last week agreed to launch an inquiry into the Bonython trial, which has been plagued by community angst over noise, privacy concerns and a perceived lack of government and regulatory oversight.

Wing chief executive James Ryan Burgess said the US-based company reviewed a number of potential locations before selecting the warehouse site on Vickers Street, Mitchell.

Advertisement

"We decided to invest in our first ever ongoing operation in Canberra because it's a growing, innovative city and Canberrans have a reputation as early adopters of new technology," Mr Burgess said.

Wing's chief executive James Ryan Burgess with one of the delivery drones, which are set to fly in Canberra's northern suburbs.

Wing's chief executive James Ryan Burgess with one of the delivery drones, which are set to fly in Canberra's northern suburbs. Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Mr Burgess said the company had started the process of obtaining approvals from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to fly in Canberra's northern suburbs. However, an authority spokesman said it had only signalled its "intent" to apply for permission to operate the service.

Delivery drones have flown in other parts of the world, but Mr Burgess said Wing's permanent Canberra home would be "the first location of its kind with the world's most advanced drone delivery service".

He said residents within the planned delivery range would be consulted in the coming weeks, prior to the commencement of any flights.

Businesses in the industrial suburbs had already expressed interest in having their goods delivered via the drones, he said.

Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez, Chemist Warehouse and Bunnings have participated in the trial.

"Our long-term location in Mitchell will allow us to work with a lot more local businesses, and we've talked to quite a few that are really excited about the opportunity," Mr Burgess said.

Loading

Wing, an off-shoot of Google's parent company Alphabet, last year tested the technology in Royalla and Googong, NSW, before launching the Bonython trial in July.

It has faced constant opposition from some local residents, who have bombarded the ACT government and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority with complaints about noisy flights and perceived deficiencies in the processes surrounding the approval and regulation of the service.

Federal Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann last month called for an independent review of the trial after being swamped with negative feedback, before the ACT Assembly voted on Thursday to establish a parliamentary inquiry into delivery drones.

The inquiry will examine the Bonython trial, as well as the possible economic benefits and environmental impacts of household drone deliveries in the territory.

Gungahlin Community Council president Peter Elford has met with Wing representatives, who he said were due to speak at next Wednesday's council meeting.

Mr Elford said the council currently had no formal position on drone deliveries, but urged Wing to take heed of the lessons from the Bonython trial.

A spokesman for Planning Minister Mick Gentleman said all MLAs were advised last week that Wing was seeking a permanent location, which would not be in Bonython.

"Although fundamentally the purchase or use of land by Wing is a matter for them as a private business, the ACT government of course welcomes business investment in Canberra. This proposed investment is another sign of confidence in the ACT economy," the spokesman said.

"Like all other businesses, in order to operate from any site, Wing would need to meet all the necessary legal and regulatory requirements of the territory and/or Commonwealth."

The Bonython trial, to end in February, had been an "opportunity for government, business and the community to learn more about this new technology".

"Like any trial, there has been both positive and negative experiences from the community with the service and, following the advice provided to all MLAs, the government understands this has been taken on board by the Wing team," the spokesman said, adding that Wing had delivered more than 2000 packages to hundreds of participants in Bonython and the company was "exploring their drone design with a view to making them quieter."