Want Hot Coffee by Drone in Minutes? You Can in Australia's Capital

Hot coffee and fresh burritos are just minutes away by drone delivery in Canberra, the capital of Australia.

In one of the world’s most advanced drone-delivery tests, sunscreen, coffee, and burritos arrive in minutes. So do complaints about noise.

Please consider Delivery Drones Cheer Shoppers, Annoy Neighbors, Scare Dogs.

Robyn McIntyre, who lives on the outskirts of Australia’s capital, was in her family room a few months ago when she thought she heard a “chain saw gone ballistic.”

It was actually a drone on its way to deliver a burrito or coffee as part of a test from Wing, which like Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. One recent day, she said delivery drones flew over her house about 10 times in 2½ hours, making it difficult to focus on working or reading the newspaper.

Drones could someday revolutionize e-commerce by cutting delivery times, reducing energy use and lowering costs. For now, they are dividing neighbors in the suburban neighborhood of Bonython, where one of the world’s most advanced drone-delivery tests has taken flight.

Irene Clarke, who is Ms. McIntyre’s neighbor, gets up to 10 deliveries a day. After she discovered that her sunscreen was out of date, she ordered a replacement via drone so she could quickly lather up her three young grandchildren. It arrived within seven minutes.

The convenience isn’t swaying members of Bonython Against Drones, a group of residents “united against noisy, intrusive, unnecessary drones,” according to its Facebook page. The organizers recently submitted a petition to the local legislative assembly. Politicians voted to launch an inquiry into drone deliveries and a committee will produce a report on the trial’s environmental and economic impacts.

“It is a suburb surrounded by bush,” said Nev Sheather, 68, who opposes the trial. “It is normally a very peaceful, quiet place. We have kangaroos hopping literally in the street.”

The drones, which have a wingspan of 3½ feet, are able to land themselves if a possible problem is detected. Out of about 2,000 flights to customers, there have been five such landings. One of those instances involved an ill-placed portable basketball hoop. Another landing occurred in high wind. One drone landed on a sidewalk because of a “flaw in the package construction.”

Massive Incentive to Eliminate Paid Drivers

Drone delivery of pizza and other fast food items will be faster, cheaper, and fresher than by car. The incentive to get rid of pizza delivery drivers is immense.

Nonetheless, drone delivery is much further along than I expected.

It's not that I thought the technology would fail, because it won't. Rather, a timely delivery of a bomb might stall drone progress for years.

Less fear over such happenings is likely why Australia is further along than the US.

Killer Drones

Perhaps the ultimate solution is "friend or foe" technology in drones where any drone not registered is shot down on the spot by masses of constantly hovering government killer drones that track pizza orders.

Science fiction?

Regardless, technology is advancing far faster than regulation. Then again, some want no regulations.

There's much to think about here, but I reiterate my long-stated position that millions of driving jobs will vanish far sooner than most expect.

The deflationary aspects are immense.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (10)
No. 1-6
Matson
Matson

Applied drone technology sounds great, but has so many issues, I wouldn't know where to start. I suppose the one issue about ownership of air space above my land is a reasonable starting point. Does anyone have the right to use my airspace with prior permission or compensation? Can intruders be shot down otherwise, like a stand your ground concept? Let the entertainment portion of this development begin, and bring your own 🍿

killben
killben

Recent event at Gatwick airport showed what damage a couple of drones can do. Imagine them whizzing in the streets in numbers above your head.

Not saying it will not happen but we need a lot of systems (a drone traffic controller for e.g.) to be in place before drone delivery or things like that become a way of life.

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

"Irene Clarke, who is Ms. McIntyre’s neighbor, gets up to 10 deliveries a day."

That's ridiculous! Ms Clarke needs to have an intervention. And shame on Alphabet for encouraging this behavior. This is by no means going to be the norm for drone delivery. Sure, you might actually need a 7 minute delivery for toilet paper once when you and the wife thought the other was going to buy it, but if that's the normal way you order TP there's something wrong with you. Even food delivery should only be a once-a-day flight at most, if these companies want to make any money at all.

And how high are these things flying? At low altitudes I've seen dogs loose it when a drone flies over. But over 200 feet or so they ignore them. And I'm sure it depends on the breed too, because there are videos of people using drones to drop balls and sticks for the dog to catch and return too. And same holds true for noise. Aside from takeoff and landing once these things are cruising they probably can't be heard at all, again unless they're keeping very low to the ground, which is probably a bad idea for a whole lot of reasons if you're delivering products.

So the author went out and tracked down the extreme downside example of drone delivery to sensationalize the issue. And they wonder why we stopped paying attention to them...

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

I personally don't see what the vitriol over drones is. Probably too much exposure to Hollywood style "zoom and enhance" plot lines that not only aren't possible, but probably not on the radar of drone operators anyway. Of course there will be teenage boys who get hold of dad's toys and use them to spy on your daughter (who probably is going to go out of her way to make it easy for teenage boys to spy on her), but that's going to be the exception. And you've probably had drones fly around and not even noticed. I see them at many major events now but mostly because I'm looking for them. Doesn't seem to detract from everyone's enjoyment of the activity.

My personal opinion is that all these news regurgitating entities have a lot of capital tied up in their traffic choppers, news crews, foreign desks, and are happy delivering the narrative the Pentagon wants to feed them with their military grade drones that any intrusion into their sandbox is an affront to their profession. And an assault on their paycheck. So better make a mountain out of a molehill if you want to keep your cushy 7 figure income and Jetset lifestyle.

As for delivery drones, Zipline is using drone delivery for blood and medicine to remote villages in Rwanda. They're able to do it for a fraction of the cost of sending a wheeled vehicle that is capable of navigating the poor roads and in a fraction of the time too. This is a real world use that is really making lives better (or possible). While the FAA wring their hands over how to appease the morons the rest of the world is moving on.

vboring
vboring

The first drones will likely be highway automated class 8 trucks. They're already in commercial service. All that is left is to appease regulators to allow full commercial operation.

For local deliveries, lower traffic areas will use cars and trucks with a human onboard to deliver to doorstops. While the truck drives autonomously, the human will pull and sort packages. Higher traffic areas will use the sidewalks and bike lanes. 5-15 mph pods on wheels will be universally hated by other users, but will be cheap and effective.

Flying drones will remain too expensive for most deliveries. Only urgent, high value applications will justify their cost.