Burritos and medicine are being delivered via drone to homes on the outskirts of the ACT.

Australian retailers Chemist Warehouse and Guzman y Gomez are participating in drone delivery trial with Google-parent company, Alphabet.

Alphabet’s moonshot unit X is using its Project Wing drones to make deliveries directly to people’s yards in rural communities on the border of the ACT and NSW.

How it works

Chemist Warehouse and Guzman y Gomez will receive orders from testers who’ve purchased items using the Project Wing app on their smartphones. The pharmacy chain is offering to deliver nearly 100 products across categories like vitamins, dental care, sun care, and over-the-counter medicines. While Guzman y Gomez will be concerned about their Mexican meals arriving hot and appetizing.

Alphabet will dispatch its drones to pick up the order from the retailers’ loading sites and then transport and deliver the goods to testers at their homes.

So far Project Wing has conducted thousands of flights, completing its first successful drone delivery in early 2016 to members of the public in an open field at Virginia Tech University. Now they want to get more specific.

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“Our drones are able to deliver items almost anywhere — backyards, public parks, farmlands or even fire-breaks. But we need to train our systems to reliably identify safe and convenient delivery locations. This is more complicated than it looks,” James Ryan Burgess, Co-Lead of Project Wing, wrote in a blog post.

Alphabet’s unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform can pre-plan a flight route, but the aircraft relies on its sensors to identify any particular obstacle that might appear, like a car parked in an unexpected spot.

“The more test deliveries we do, exposing the sensors on our aircraft to new delivery locations, the smarter our aircraft’s algorithms will one day become at picking a safe spot for deliveries.”

Guzman y Gomez is the first company participating in the trials and Alphabet says its upcoming tests will explore how its drone technology could help the Australian Capital Territory Rural Fire Service.

“We know the weeks and months ahead will be filled with unexpected challenges as we undertake these new tests. We’re grateful to the communities in the ACT and Queanbeyan regions who’ve let us into their yards, so we can learn even more about building a delivery network ready to fly in the open skies.”

Guzman y Gomez drone
A Guzman y Gomez employee walks outside the kitchen to load a package containing a burrito onto a hook that is winched up by the Wing delivery drone.
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