Wing Pilots a New Model for Retail Drone Delivery

retail drone delivery Alphabet's Wing delivery droneAlphabet’s Wing is piloting a new model for retail drone delivery, launching delivery drones from the rooftop of shopping centers directly to homes and businesses in southeast Queensland.

Wing started one of the first retail drone delivery services in the world in an Australian suburb, and they now boast over 100,000 successful and safe deliveries.  After becoming one of the first retail drone delivery providers approved in the U.S., Wing launched a successful operation in Christianburg, VA.  While Wing has delivered retail goods that range from drugstore items to Girl Scout cookies, these deliveries have been based on a model that co-locates retailers at a central Wing location.  Now, Wing has put a drone delivery operation on the roof of a local mall – making it much easier for retailers to participate.  The project is being piloted from the rooftop of Grand Plaza in Logan, Queensland.  Wing and mall developers Vicinity Centers have been operating the program since mid-August, “delivering goods on-demand from a range of businesses located at the centre directly to consumers, by drone,” says a press release.

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“Participating businesses include food and beverage outlets, Sushi Hub, Boost Juice, and Chatime. From today, local community pharmacy TerryWhite Chemmart will also commence offering drone delivery of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, personal care, general health, and beauty products.

Wing has made more than 2,500 contactless drone deliveries in the first 6 weeks of the program, delivering from Grand Plaza to customers in parts of the Logan suburbs of Regents Park, Heritage Park, Park Ridge, Browns Plains, Marsden, Crestmead, and Berrinba. Wing plans to expand the project soon.

“We’re delighted to explore this new model of delivery with Vicinity Centres. For the first time, we are co-locating our drones with businesses at their premises, rather than local businesses having to co-locate their goods with us at our delivery facility,” Jesse Suskin, Wing’s Head of Policy & Community Affairs, Australia, said.

“With the increase in consumers’ desire for convenience and speed, on-demand drone delivery can help address the costly last-mile delivery challenge, reduce road congestion and emissions, and create new economic opportunities for businesses by utilising their existing retail space as logistics hubs and fulfillment centres.”

Here’s how Wing’s retail drone delivery model works. Customers download the free Wing mobile app, and use it to submit an order.  When the order has been packaged by the retailer and delivered to the rooftop of the shopping center, a drone picks up the package from the Grand Plaza rooftop. In minutes, the drone flies to the customer address – and then, Wing explains, “slows down, hovers, descends to a delivery height of about 7 metres above ground, lowers the package to the ground on a tether and automatically releases the package in the desired delivery area.”

“The drone does not land and there is no need to unclip or assist with the delivery of the package. The drone then climbs back to cruise height and returns to the Grand Plaza rooftop.”

In addition to being safe and convenient for delivery customers, locating the drones on the roof of the shopping plaza makes drone delivery viable for a wide range of retailers.  Wing’s new model could be the path to viable commercial scalability that drone delivery advocates have been looking for.