Wing, Alphabet’s drone delivery unit, has launched demonstration flights in Lusk, a north Dublin suburb.
There is a major escalation in potential drone shipments here, with Ireland being chosen as Wing’s fourth development market after the US, Australia and Finland.
Google’s sister company is inviting the north Dublin public to try out its delivery service, which will be free for the rest of the year but limited to a handful of small items.
Executives told the Irish Independent that the company hopes to work with trading partners, but declined to reveal the details of the talks currently taking place.
According to the company, it wants to set up a complete delivery service in Ireland. Executives say they believe it can be done legally within the next year.
In markets like Finland, where it already operates a commercial delivery service in Helsinki, Wing completes deliveries by lowering packages in front and back gardens. In Dublin, as a “consultation exercise” with local communities, it will restrict deliveries to open greens in the coming weeks.
Delivery typically takes between five and ten minutes from registering the order through the Wing app. The drones fly at a height of between 50 and 100 meters and at a speed of 100 km/h.
When dropping off a delivery, the drone hovers outside the delivery address and detaches a string with the item attached. After the item is lowered to the ground, the cable detaches from the packaging and the drone returns to base.
The entire flight process is automated while attaching deliveries is done manually.
Deliveries work in most Irish weather conditions and also in the dark. However, demonstration deliveries are limited to a few hours a day from Thursday to Sunday.
Wing’s drone deliveries are currently taking off from an industrial facility 2km outside of Lusk and delivering to two open green spaces in the city.
The Alphabet company designs and manufactures its own drones, which are lightweight and able to withstand most types of rain and wind, and temperatures from minus 10 degrees to 38 degrees.
In the US, Australia and Finland, the company has made over 250,000 drone deliveries in its four years.
It usually delivers groceries, pharmacy supplies, coffee, and other necessities.
Ireland is recognized as one of the most advanced testbeds for drone deliveries in Europe. Dublin-based startup Manna has completed 100,000 test flights in Ireland, starting at Oranmore in Co Galway, before moving its test delivery operations to Moneygall, County Offaly.
It currently operates a test delivery service in Balbriggan, near Lusk.
Manna drones 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. The company has partnerships with outlets such as Tesco, Subway, pharmacies and coffee shops.
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.
A spokesman for Manna, which has been conducting test flights in Ireland for the past 18 months, said the company could not give any news on its plans or if it thinks it will be able to launch a commercial soon.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/alphabet-drone-firm-lifts-off-in-dublin-42150041.html The drone company Alphabet takes off from Dublin