Wing, Alphabet’s drone delivery unit, is scheduled to begin trials in Ireland from next month.
In a statement, the company told the Irish Independent that the trial would take place “in a community close to Dublin”.
“We are still working on the preparations, including reaching out to local stakeholders,” a spokesman said.
“We believe it is important to consult with the local community before launching a drone delivery service and that process is now underway. We hope to share more soon as we can have more of these conversations and continue with community input.”
Wing currently operates in the US, Australia and Finland. In the four years, it has made over 250,000 drone deliveries.
Drone deliveries in Ireland can currently only be carried out with human observers on each flight, making them prohibitively expensive and restrictive as a mainstream commercial service.
However, new regulations across Europe next year will allow companies to operate drones “out of sight” commercially, opening the door for companies like Wing to operate without the restriction of human visual observers for each flight.
“I would like to stress that we envision this as a limited demonstration outside of Dublin and that it will be a first step for Wing in Ireland,” the company spokesman said.
“We are encouraged by the advances in drone regulations we have seen in the EU and Ireland has a strong drone ecosystem which makes it an attractive location for us. We have already started recruiting talent in the region and we look forward to becoming part of the thriving drone community there.”
Ireland is recognized as one of the most advanced testbeds for drone delivery in Europe, with local startup Manna completing 100,000 test flights in Ireland, starting at Oranmore in Co Galway, before moving its test delivery operations to Moneygall, County Offaly.
Last year, Manna moved test operations to Balbriggan, County Dublin, a local market of around 25,000 people.
Founded by former CarTrawler executive Bobby Healy, Manna has raised nearly €30 million in funding over the past three years and employs over 100 people. It plans to develop a new manufacturing facility and delivery site in a major Dublin suburb.
Manna drones currently deliver small items such as coffee, fast food, small groceries and pharmacy products as long as the total weight is under 2kg and fits in a shoebox.
Promising delivery in less than five minutes to addresses within a 2km radius of its base, the drone hovers outside the delivery address and releases a thread with the item attached. When the item is close to the ground, the thread will detach and the drone will return to base. Deliveries work in wind and no daylight, but not in heavy rain.
It is currently delivering small takeaway packages in this area from outlets such as Tesco, Subway, pharmacies and coffee shops.
The drones typically fly at a height of between 50 and 80 meters and at a speed of over 60 km/h.
Mr Healy declined to give the location of the nearest test delivery point.
Safety and other regulatory issues for drones are overseen by the European Union Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) and the Irish Aviation Authority.
Several research reports in recent months suggest that drone deliveries have a lower environmental impact per package than cars, vans and motorcycles, and are roughly on par with electric bikes.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/google-parent-firm-to-enter-irish-drone-delivery-market-42060439.html Google parent company looking to enter Irish drone delivery market