Guzman Y Gomez and Chemist Warehouse have teamed up with Alphabet’s invention lab to begin trailing commercial drone deliveries in rural NSW.
Under the initiative, named Project Wing, Alphabet-owned company X will facilitate the delivery of GYG’s menu and nearly 100 Chemist Warehouse products to households in Royalla, 35km outside of Canberra.
The commercial trials have been approved by the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority (CASA) and will run over the course of the next few months.
Eligible customers will purchase GYG or Chemist Warehouse goods from a Project Wing application on their smartphones, which will be fulfilled from a mobile kitchen and warehouse in the surrounding area.
Drones will deliver directly into the backyards or doorsteps of customers, up to 10 kilometres away from pick-up points.
The project will be the largest-scale commercial drone delivery trial in Australia to date, following the completion of a CASA-backed drone delivery trial by Australia Post earlier this year.
Pizza chain Domino’s also recently unveiled the next phase of its commercial drone delivery trials in New Zealand.
X has been set-up in the surrounding area for several weeks and has already completed another set of non-commercial trials in the area, according to commentary published by Project Wing co-lead James Ryan Burgess on Tuesday morning.
“Today we’re announcing that two Australian merchants are joining our tests, as they’re eager to understand how drone delivery could help them serve their customers better,” Burgess wrote.
“Residents near our testing area on the outskirts of the ACT live an idyllic country lifestyle on 10-acre blocks of rolling land spotted with gum trees and horses. But they face a 40-minute round trip in the car for almost anything, whether it’s a carton of milk, veggies for dinner, or a cup of coffee.
“Our testers, including young families, busy professionals and retirees, had many suggestions for how our technology could address this fundamental inconvenience.
“Our partners Guzman y Gomez and Chemist Warehouse will teach us what we need to do to ensure that orders are channelled to their staff smoothly and that they can easily load goods onto our delivery drones,” Burgess continued.
Guzman Y Gomez has created a custom mobile kitchen for the trial called the ‘Drone Mothership’ and has been testing food quality and packaging solutions with X.
“In the same way delivery by car has changed the way we eat, we hope that drone delivery may be the next evolution of food delivery,” GYG wrote in a blogpost about the partnership on Tuesday morning.
“GYG are on a mission to reinvent fast food for the 21st century. We believe fast food doesn’t have to be bad food but we also want to re-invent delivery channels and provide convenience to our customers by making GYG available, anytime, anyhow, anywhere. Drone delivery is simply the next evolution in delivery and we wanted to be part of this ground-breaking moment.”
X’s drones are currently able to carry a 1kg load and travel at speeds of up to 120kms per hour.
This compares to the commercial drones currently being developed by Flirtey for Domino’s in New Zealand, which has recently been bolstered to be able to carry multiple pizzas alongside 1.25L drinks.
If successful, X’s trial stands to aid industry attempts to attain CASA approval for a broader-based drone consumer trial in Australia, which the likes of Domino’s and Australia Post have been working towards for some time.
CASA has granted the trial two permissions to enable its operation, including allowing testers to fly within 15 metres of another person (the customer), and flexing line-of-sight regulations to enable a work-around that will enable longer distance deliveries.
“The drone takes off from one place and flies to another place where it can’t be seen, but [X] have got observers along the way, so it can be seen by a Google [sic] person at all times during the flight,” CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said.
Gibson said that CASA was buoyed by the fact that the trial is taking place in a rural area, which would make it much easier to comply with regulation that stipulates that drones must remain at least 30 metres away from people not involved in the delivery activity.