Look! Up in the sky! CWH tests drone delivery


A Project Wing drone over Queanbeyan. Image: Project Wing
A Project Wing drone over Queanbeyan. Image: Project Wing

Australians living around the NSW-ACT border could see a Chemist Warehouse drone go by

Chemist Warehouse, as well as the Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez, is currently helping Google’s parent company, Alphabet, test its drone delivery service.

James Ryan Burgess, co-lead of Project Wing, has penned a blog piece in which it announced that the service is partnering with the two merchants to drop goods to rural residents.

Project Wing successfully completed its first drone deliveries to consumers in an open field at Virginia Tech University, he writes; now, “we’ve been testing in a rural community on the border of the ACT and NSW and tackling an entirely different level of operational complexity: making deliveries directly to people’s yards”.

“Our testers — alpaca farmers, math professors, equestrians, and artists (not to mention a few curious kangaroos) — have been helping us fine-tune how our drones move goods from where they’re located to where they’re needed.”

Under the service, residents can purchase items using the Project Wing smartphone app and have drones deliver the goods.

Mr Burgess writes that residents of the testing area, on the outskirts of the ACT, face a 40-minute round trip to get to local shops.

“They wanted fresh meals delivered at dinner time. Some who run small businesses at home wanted to be able to send customer orders from their doorstep.

“A few with farms wanted supplies to arrive at their paddocks, or spare parts delivered to the ailing vehicle on their property.

“Almost all said that they’d value having medicine delivered to their door, especially when they’re unwell.”

Guzman y Gomez and Chemist Warehouse will teach Project Wing how to ensure orders are sent to their staff smoothly, and how to ensure they can easily pack products onto the drones.

“Through our partnership with Chemist Warehouse, we want to ensure our system is able to support merchants with a wide variety of products.

“As part of this test, they’re offering nearly 100 products across categories like vitamins, dental care, sun care, and over-the-counter medicines.

“By practicing how we pack items of very different shapes and sizes into our fixed-sized package, we’ll learn how to optimize how many items we’re able to deliver per flight.”

Chemist Warehouse is not the first pharmacy to take to the skies: in the UK, the MedExpress online pharmacy has been investigating using drones to deliver sensitive medicines, such as emergency contraception.

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