A new trial in southeastern Australia will see Alphabet’s X lab use its Project Wing drones to drop parcels of Mexican food and medical supplies (one hopes the former doesn’t necessitate the latter) right next to people’s back doors. Two local stores, Guzman y Gomez and Chemist Warehouse, will receive orders that are made via a dedicated Project Wing smartphone app. Store assistants will then ready the goods, while X dispatches drones to pick them up and carry them to customers.
But it’s the next part that is the real point of this trial. Folks at the X lab hope to learn how to identify safe and convenient delivery locations where drones can lower parcels to customers using a tether and winch. That may sound simple, but in the longer term e-tailers will require the craft to not, say, set items down in front of a garage door, or somewhere that an opportunistic thief might spot them. So this will help X to thrash some of those problems out.
It’s worth noting that these aren't typical yards, but several-acre plots of country land in rural Australia. Still, taken alongside our recent reports of the first urban drone deliveries and genuinely useful-sounding applications of the technology, it's another sign that aerial shipping appears to be really taking off.