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World-First Google Drone Delivery Business Approved in Canberra

Google will open its world-first drone delivery business in Canberra’s north by the end of this week, as Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority has given formal approval to the Alphabet’s Project Wing, which delivers food, drinks, and medication.

For the past 18 months, Project Wing, an offshoot of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been trialling drone delivery of food and drinks, medication and locally-made coffee and chocolate.

The aviation watchdog confirmed on Tuesday it had signed off on the scheme. The Casa spokesman Peter Gibson said the safety of the drones, traffic management system, maintenance, drone pilot training, and operational plans have been examined.

A six-month trial in Bonython last year upset some nearby residents who claimed the noise of the drones could be heard through double-glazed windows.

It also divided the local community, with concerns about the intrusion of privacy and a lack of regulation prompting an ACT Assembly inquiry.

Gibson told, “all those safety issues have been assessed so there are no risks to people on the ground, property or aircraft in the sky”. Regarding noise, he said CASA did consider noise issues as part of the approval process.

He said the approval has been granted with strict conditions including daylight operating hours. The drones are banned from crossing over major roads and there’s a minimum distance they have to maintain from people on the ground.

In launching the commercial air delivery service, Project Wing released a statement saying, “We’re excited to connect with more local businesses in the Gungahlin area about how we can help them reach more customers faster, safer and more sustainably,” the media release said.

“The delivery service will initially be available to only 100 eligible homes in the suburbs of Crace, Palmerston and Franklin.

“We expect to gradually expand to more customers in Harrison and Gungahlin in the coming weeks and months.”

Local chocolate maker Peter Channels, whose chocolates will be delivered by drone, said it was an opportunity to expand to a new market. We really enjoy the direct interaction with customers”

>Juthy Saha

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