One of Alphabet’s moonshot projects is an autonomous delivery drone service called Wing. As far as I can tell, they’re only company offering this kind of service to the general public in North America — though they are only operating in a few test locations in Virginia, Finland, and Australia.
- Canberra, Australia
- Logan, Australia
- Helsinki, Finland
- Christiansburg, United States
Not surprisingly, demand for Wing deliveries has surged during this pandemic. According to the Verge, the company made over 1,000 deliveries in the past two weeks, which represents a doubling of deliveries in the US and Australia. The most popular items seem to be essentials like toilet paper and coffee.
This is perhaps a good example of the argument that COVID-19 isn’t going to change things per se, it will simply accelerate the adoption of things that were already in the process of happening. I was and am of the opinion that drones will become an integral part of delivery logistics. (Full disclosure: I own a bit of Alphabet and Drone Delivery Canada stock.)
There is still a lot that will need to happen. Alphabet/Wing is also working on an autonomous traffic management platform, because you obviously need something robust if you’re going to scale this up. How you make this work in dense urban environments is also a whole other kettle of fish, though already people are starting to reconsider how rooftops are used.
For more on Wing, click here.