In 2019 and after five years of testing, Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, a possession of Google, is offering residents of the city of Canberra, Australia, a drone delivery service. During the Australian containment related to the Covid-19 pandemic, requests have increased, with the population wanting to get their food, supplies or medicine without leaving home. Despite the fact that this service is very convenient, it is often subject to crow attacks, causing the drones to lose their cargo.
Google’s drone-based delivery service
The commercial delivery service offered by Wing has been in existence since 2019 in Australia. The fleet includes several dozen drones stored in a hangar near Camberra, the capital of Australia. Coffee, food, medicine, etc. Anything a city resident asks the service for, the drone will bring to them in suburban and inner-city neighborhoods in no more than 15 minutes.
Originally, Google Wing was a project of Google’s “Lab X”. It was in 2014 that the first tests had been conducted in Australia. Four years later, Wing became a separate company, a subsidiary of Alphabet dedicated to drone delivery. On site, Google has made nearly 3,000 deliveries in 18 months of experimentation, which has allowed the firm to put in place certain restrictions: the flying devices will not be allowed to fly over major roads, nor to fly at night or too close to people.
A service endangered by crows protecting their nests from the invader
After more than two years in service, Wing’s drones have been forced to stay on the ground to avoid being attacked by crows. These birds do not hesitate to attack the drones, which inevitably causes them to lose their cargo and thus ruin the entire delivery.
These attacks can be explained by a more territorial behaviour during the nesting period, as the crows wish to protect their nests from possible invaders, such as drones. Wing said it is currently working with ornithological experts to respect the environment and have a minimal impact on bird life in areas where drone deliveries are made.
The company insisted that out of thousands of deliveries, such attacks on birds are a rare occurrence and that the drones are equipped with protective gear so that the animal is not harmed in case of contact. Ornithologist Neil Hermes said that crows are used to scaring away dogs that get too close to their nests, but that this phenomenon with drones is a new behavior.
Meanwhile, the service is unavailable in the Harrison neighborhood, where attacks are most common.