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IPFS News Link • Drones

Wing says drone deliveries are taking off madly where they're allowed

•, By Loz Blain

The only holdup at this stage is red tape, and in the few places where that's been cleared away – like the Australian city of Logan, Queensland – drone deliveries are already proving very popular.

Wing says it's already made a whopping 50,000 deliveries in Logan, where it kicked off activities in 2019 through its own app and service, flying out coffees, snack packs, BBQ chickens, sushi rolls, hardware items and a range of other small packages on demand. Eleven local business are acting as suppliers at this point.

That volume, says the company, makes Logan the world's drone delivery capital. Or at least, the world's legal drone delivery capital, anyway. Operations in Christiansburg, Virginia, as well as Helsinki, Finland and Canberra, Australia, have kicked in a further 50,000 deliveries between them, and Wing says demand for the super-fast delivery service is growing at an impressive rate wherever it's made available. The company tells us that deliveries grew by 500 percent from 2019 to 2020, and that in Q2 2021 it made more deliveries than in all of 2020.

Wing uses electric, autonomous, lift-and-cruise style multicopter drones – quite large ones at 1.3 m (4.3 ft) long with a 1.5-m (5-ft) wingspan. Each weighs 4.8 kg (10.6 lb), and can carry payloads up to 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). They run 12 vertical lift propellers and two forward propellers, giving them a top speed of 104.4 km/h (64.9 mph), and they're capable of round-trip distances up to 20 km (12 miles). There are multiple batteries and navigation systems for the sake of redundancy.

Packages are loaded up attached to tethers. The drones fly themselves autonomously using Wing's own air traffic control systems as well as onboard cameras and sensors. When they reach their destination, they hover at an altitude of 7 m (23 ft) and gently lower the package down on its tether, unclipping it when it's on the ground, then retracting the tether and flying home. If somebody grabs the package while it's still on the string, the drone simply lets go of the string and nicks off before anyone tries to grab anything else.