Google’s parent company Alphabet will soon service Helsinki with flying robotic couriers. Alphabet announced that in the coming weeks, residents of the city will be able to order food items by phone, to have them dropped off by Wing drones and Wing’s blog post outlined a detailed road-map.
Wing will launch with two retail partners — gourmet supermarket Herkku Food Market and restaurant Cafe Monami — to deliver items weighing 3.3 pounds or less up to a distance of 6.2 miles. The company provides examples of products it will deliver by drone, including a two-person lasagna meal, a ‘movie combo’ with popcorn, candy, and soda, plus a chicken Caesar salad.
In anticipation of the launch Wing has already conducted multiple events with Vuosaari residents to inform them about the pilot delivery service; additional educational community events are planned for the coming weeks, “so that local residents could ask questions about [the] service” and “provide thoughts on how Wing might fit into their lives.”
Wing writes, “Vuosaari is an inspiring locale for Wing in several ways. Helsinki’s most populous district, it is bordered by water on three sides, with significant forestland alongside residential areas and a large international cargo port. The density of Vuosaari’s population makes it a great place to launch our first service to multi-family housing communities as well.”
Starting early June Food Market Herkku, will test Wing delivery of its lunchtime products with the unmanned vehicles. The test area will be limited to Vuosaari in eastern Helsinki. Customers will be able to order lunchtime products from the Herkku store located in the Itis shopping centre, and have it delivered to them by a drone.
The Helsinki expansion marks Wing’s first European roll-out and comes a month after its commercial drone delivery service launched in Australia. Wing currently serves around 100 homes in the suburbs of Crace, Franklin, and Palmerston, where Wing’s drones have completed 70,000 flights and 3,000 deliveries.
Soon the FAA followed suit and granted its approval for the company to start making deliveries in the US. Wing plans to kick off drone deliveries from local merchants in the Virginia towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg within months.
Equipped with a dozen vertical rotors and two propellers these Wing drones can fly at speeds of up to 78 miles per hour and take off and land vertically. Automated flight-planning software determines their route, while a downward-facing camera and other on-board sensors help them avoid obstacles.
Wing asserts that its sophisticated drone tech will enable local businesses substantially cut costs while reducing their carbon footprint. While a Rand Corporation study forecast a 6% reduction in energy usage compared to trucks another commissioned study claimed $9 million savings in annual cost.
Wing notes that Helsinki wants to render cars obsolete by 2025 with reliable and affordable public transportation, and drone deliveries would aid in that goal “by reducing car trips to pick up small goods.” At the same time, the cost of deliveries is lower than with regular couriers.
Helsinki is rapidly becoming the world leader in the unmanned autonomous space, it was one of the first cities in the world to pilot self-driving robot buses on public roads. This new service from Wing will certainly help Finland’s southern capital to achieve its vision to be the world’s most functional city!
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