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Alphabet’s drone division has launched its first public delivery service

April 10, 2019

About 100 homes in five suburbs of Canberra, Australia, will be able to order food and medication from local businesses to be delivered by drone.

Approved: Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority granted the project regulatory approval, after an 18-month trial that involved 3,000 deliveries. There are conditions attached: the drones can only fly at certain times, they can’t fly over main roads, and they need to stay at a safe distance from people. The service will gradually expand to further areas once it’s up and running in the initial zones, Alphabet’s drone spinoff Wing said.

How it works: Wing has partnered with 12 local businesses to deliver their products to customers nearby “in minutes.” Initially there had been some complaints from residents over noise levels during the pilot, but Wing has since developed a quieter drone model, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports. It has claimed that the service could be worth $21 million to $29 million to the local economy.

A first? Sadly, probably not, despite claims of Australia’s regulator that it “very likely” is. UPS seems to have got there first in the US. It looks as if the market for drone deliveries is finally starting to get off the ground, with fierce competition between Alphabet, Amazon, and a handful of other players.

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