Retailers and tech companies like Alphabet and Amazon are exploring drones to more efficiently deliver goods to customers. Wing graduated from the X Moonshot Factory in July, but has been conducting tests for several years now. A new report details what living with the pilot program is like.
A piece published in the Wall Street Journal today highlights drone noise as the biggest annoyance for people living in the Australian neighborhood where Wing has trialed the service with local businesses.
“Some residents don’t use their yards as much because of the noise. Others say they’ve seen magpies, famous for swooping at pedestrians and cyclists in the spring, do the same to drones. At a local dog club, some members are avoiding an area near where the drones take off because dogs can get nervous, says the club president.”
The noise can be quite frequent depending on whether you live in a common flight path for drones. One anecdote from an Australian describes 10 flights over the course of two and a half hours, with the noise equated to a chainsaw.
In response, Wing is developing a quieter drone, and has already taken measures to minimize current complaints. Namely, the flight speed has been reduced, while flight paths are adjusted so that drones don’t fly over the same house all the time. The current vehicle has a top speed of 78 miles per hour and 12 rotors with two propellers.
There are happy customers that highlight the appeal of drones and delivery times often within minutes. Companies like Wing argue that there is a reduction in small-package delivery costs for businesses, with one commissioned study citing $9 million in annual savings for Canberra businesses. Another study from the Rand Corp suggests 6% energy reductions compared to trucks.
“Some people may not like the drone service “because they’re not using it,” said Ms. Clarke, adding that none of her neighbors have asked her to stop getting deliveries.”
Other issues involve accidental deliveries that Wing chalked up to user error in one example, while there have yet to be any accidents according to Australia’s aviation regulator. Out of 2,000 deliveries, Wing drones have needed to land five times due to high winds or obstructions.
Wing next year will begin testing in another part of Australia and expand to Finland.