The CEO of drone delivery firm Wing declares that 2024 is “the year of drone delivery”. The company was first publicly traded at the end of 2014 as the result of a Google “moonshot” project (https://georgetowinternationalacademy.org/). It is now operating in a number of cities including Australia as well as in the United States and Finland, with plans to grow further.

Wing promises quick, inexpensive delivery of groceries and food at the push of a button. However, there are some critics raising concerns regarding personal privacy issues like the noise level and privateness. But what are the main difficulties of having delivery drones in your area?

To learn more, I’ve spent time within australia’s “drone zones”, interviewing local business owners and residents in test suburbs throughout Canberra in NSW and Logan within Queensland. As it turns out, privacy and noise aren’t the principal concerns.

Instead, the discussion was about the larger issues of infrastructure like poor traffic, bad public transportation, and other shortcomings of urban planning. They also discussed drone delivery was suggested as a temporary solution.

What Exactly Is Wing Function?

Customers can use Wing. Wing is similar to UberEats or Menulog customers can place orders and make payments through an app. The items available are light everyday items from many vendors, including sushi rolls, takeaway coffees and even small supermarket items.

What’s distinctive is the way in which it delivers. A small, autonomous drone equipped with the sensors of its own and a navigation system delivers the package via air.

In community trials deliveries have proven astonishingly rapid. The average delivery time is 10 minutes, with the fastest delivery time – from the moment of order placing until delivery to the doorstep in just 2 minutes and 47 seconds.

Wing began its initial trials in the town of Royalla close to the border between New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Australia has served as a test site for its systems since.

As part of my study regarding drone delivery within Australia I’ve spent time with my drones in Canberra and Logan and watching the trials, and talking to people who live there about the challenges of drone delivery actually is like.

There were different opinions regarding issues such as privacy and noise. Some people didn’t mind noise at all, whereas others thought it was an “jumbo whipper snipper” of greater concern was the message Wing suggested regarding how urban planners will evolve, and the sustainability of small-scale businesses.

Sustainability That Is Based On Traffic And Cars

One of Wing’s most persuasive arguments to both residents and the government is it’s battery powered drones are the lowest emissions, fastest and sustainable option for “last mile” delivery. In essence, Wing promises to take cars off the roads by introducing drones to the skies. However, the business model currently relies heavily on urban sprawl and traffic.

The regions Wing has chosen to target have significant infrastructure issues. While Wing might be able to provide a quick solution to these issues in the short-term however, over the long haul its success is dependent on roads remaining congested and the neighbourhoods becoming inaccessible. This is a huge warning for communities, who prefer an improved transportation system on the ground rather than increasing drone traffic in the skies.

From the point of view of Wing According to an official spokesperson for Wing:

Wing is a great service to those who live in areas with a lot of traffic congestion. […] We believe drones are the best suitable for transporting a tiny item when other effective methods aren’t in use.

In my discussions with residents living in Browns Plains (in Logan, south of Brisbane) and Gungahlin (in Canberra), the conversations quickly shifted into drones, resulting in poor public transport and roads.

Honestly, it’s terrible. There are buses that can take over an hour to reach Woodridge. It’s only a 13 minute drive down the road, and it takes forever to arrive. The traffic is always bad.

Parking was a frequent source of complaint for these locations:

The design of Gungahlin It’s as if everything are being added to. The rapid growth of many high-density constructions has brought a significant change to parking and other issues for people who want to go to the mall, […] there’s no parking.

The Abandonment of Small Businesses In Favor of Large Partnerships

In the year 2019 the year that Wing first arrived at the city in Logan in Queensland the company partnered in partnership with businesses from the area. In the theory, Wing would help these companies reach more customers as well as “take [them] to new heights”.

This method was extremely successful. Local hardware shops, coffee shops, and grocery stores supplied supplies in Wing’s warehouses. The year 2021 was the time Wing has declared Logan “the drone delivery capital of the world”.

However, in 2022 Wing started to shift towards a business model that was simpler to scale up. Instead of purchasing and supplying its own warehouses and also managing its own delivery service, Wing struck deals with major retailers like Coles as well as DoorDash.

Customers and local businesses feel sucked into the chaos. A local resident said to me:

The main reason we decided to join the site was that, it’s still possible to help local. You can get it delivered fairly cheaply and there’s also a convenience aspect. Then, when they’ve taken everything away, for instance Boost Juice is likely the only thing I’m using on the site currently, and it’s via DoorDash or even via their website directly.

A business owner from another said he was “ditched”:

They set a deadline to it and stated “We’re redoing the way we’re doing business.” […] They made the decision to reduce their expenses even although they’re controlled by Google and they’ve made lots of cash. They’ll use the rooftop space of the biggest shopping centres and take off the drones from there. They will also make use of the inventory from Coles or whatever they were working in the moment.

The huge partnerships of Wing also make it difficult for smaller companies to make a mark. Local shops can’t meet the requirements of a delivery in ten minutes. commissions on delivery platforms of up to 15% could affect their profits.

A Wing spokesperson said to The Conversation the company is providing service delivery to more small companies than they did previously and added that “68% of restaurants and merchants on the [Wing] marketplace are independent small businesses that aren’t affiliated with a national chain or brand”.

Long-Term Effects

The image emerging from my conversations shows that drone delivery was initially thought of as a pleasant enough new concept, but the potential negative long-term effects on the quality of life of communities are becoming evident.

Wing’s innovations go beyond technical – like the autonomous drones that it has developed, its physical infrastructure as well as traffic control systems, but are also the social as well as regulatory. Partnerships between major retail chains and developers of properties aren’t less significant in addition, the firm is engaged in creation of new safety regulations and standards for drones. Since it is a subsidiary of the multibillion-dollar US technology company Alphabet (the the parent that is part of Google), Wing has considerable resources for making sure that its business is successful.

Wing has stated that Australia is the future of drone deliveries.. Listening to the tales of those who are experiencing drone delivery We can find out more about the risks they pose and unanticipated effects.