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Drone food delivery not pie in the sky … unless it’s dessert

  • Google startup subsidiary Wing partnering with Coles to trial food delivery by drone.
  • Analysts believe the space is one to watch as it will fly towards a US$3.74bn valuation by 2026.
  • In 2021 Wing completed 100,000+ drone deliveries in Australia and surpassed 30,000 food trips in the first 2 months of 2022.

Next time you need food delivery service, Wing, don’t ring.

Last week, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) startup subsidiary Wing launched a pilot program in Canberra via a partnership with supermarket giant Coles, to deliver groceries by drone to households in several suburbs.

A delivery drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which can be used to deliver packages, food, medical supplies, and other goods to homes or businesses. It’s contactless delivery to the extreme.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has given approval to Wing Aviation and Swoop Aero to operate drone delivery services in Australia. Wing is operating in Gungahlin in the Australian Capital Territory, and in Logan in Queensland. Swoop Aero is operating in Goodiwindi in Queensland.

Wing actually launched in Canberra in 2019 and now delivers everything from coffee, to curries, burgers, ice cream, groceries, and pharmacy items to Aussie homes and commercial premises.

According to the company’s website, drone delivery has become increasingly integrated into the lives of Aussies over the past few years. In 2021, Wing completed more than 100,000 drone deliveries in Australia. In just the first two months of 2022, drone food trips surpassed 30,000.

Earlier this year in Australia, Wing launched a partnership with Vietnamese chain Roll’d, it has partnered with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), and has deals with Friendly Grocer offering rapid COVID-19 tests deliveries, as well as allowing St. John Ambulance Queensland to drop off first aid kits.

As global online retailers begin trialling similar ventures including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, analysts forecast that the drone delivery space could be worth US$3.74 billion by 2026.

The global delivery drone market is expected to grow from US$1.26 billion in 2021 to US$1.47 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.3%. The growth is mainly due to companies resuming operations and adapting to the new normal while recovering from the COVID-19 impact.

When it comes to drone deliveries specifically, there are lots of logistical hurdles and privacy concerns for companies to overcome before the concept becomes a viable business.

While drone delivery companies will need to get permissions and seek certain exemptions from the CASA to run trials, they are becoming increasingly popular during the pandemic.

Drones do have limitations. They can only travel a certain distance from their delivery hubs, they can only deliver in daylight hours, and drones can carry just a few kilograms at a time.

However, after a decade of development, testing, and trials, 2021 was the year that drone deliveries took off with Wing making more than 140,000 deliveries to customers, a more than 600% increase over 2020.

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