Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, is the world’s first on-demand drone delivery service direct to homes and businesses. Available on three continents, Wing works with local businesses and major global partners to deliver food, goods, medicine, and parcels via drone. Wing also plays an integral role in enabling automated access to the sky through its drone flyer app, OpenSky.
Wing drones are custom-designed to deliver packages safely, reliably and very quickly. You can see how the process works at a high level here on our website.
In summary, once a customer submits an order via the Wing mobile app our drone flies to pick up the package at our delivery facility. The drone then climbs to a cruise height on average of about 45 metres (150 feet) above ground, flying to the designated delivery destination in several minutes. Once at the customer destination, the drone slows down, hovers, descends to a delivery height of 7 metres (23 feet) above ground, and then lowers the tether and automatically releases the package in the desired delivery area. There is no need to unclip or assist with the delivery of the package. The drone then climbs back to cruise height and returns to the Wing site.
After a customer places an order, our uncrewed traffic management (UTM) software plans a route designed to avoid obstacles and meet regulatory requirements. Once planned, the UTM software indicates to the aircraft that it is safe to fly to the customer’s delivery location. The aircraft automatically monitors its systems to make sure it is safe to fly and will prevent takeoff or automatically take contingency actions if a problem is detected. Our trained pilots oversee everything to make sure the system is operating smoothly.
Wing’s aircraft is designed to deliver small packages that weigh approximately 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) or less. We’ve delivered fresh foods, medicines, household items and tools to users thus far, and we hope to deliver any items that communities find useful in the future.
Our customers do not interact directly with the delivery drone, as there is no need to unclip or assist with the delivery of the package. The aircraft hovers around 7 metres (23 feet) above the ground and lowers the package to the ground slowly, attached to a tether. We ask customers to remain 2 metres (6 feet) away from the package drop-off point to avoid interfering with the delivery process. After the package reaches the ground, it is released from the tether. The drone reels in the tether and flies away, and the customer can pick up the package.
We have multiple safeguards built into our operations. If someone were to pull on the tether as the drone tried to deliver a package, the tether would release itself with the package and the drone would return to the site.
Wing’s delivery drones are among the safest way to transport goods; they are safer for the community than having goods delivered by truck or car, or having to get into a vehicle yourself to pick up an item from a store. We’ve flown more than 100,000 test flights and made thousands of deliveries to test, improve and confirm the safety of our operations. In addition, we have multiple levels of redundancy built into our operations, including real-time systems that conduct health and safety checks on our drones and qualified pilots who oversee operations. To offer our service, the safety of Wing’s aircraft, personnel and operations are rigorously reviewed and all operations can only be undertaken with the approval of the regulators in each country we operate.
Initially we will operate during daylight hours and in favourable weather conditions. However, our drones are designed to fly safely delivering a package in a strong breeze and rain.
For the purposes of our current operations, we are allowed to fly without Air Traffic Control clearance because our delivery drones are flying under 120 metres high (400 feet) and are sufficiently far away from the nearest airport. However, as an additional safety precaution, our trained pilots closely monitor for local air traffic entering the operating area.
Our drones are quieter and much shorter in duration than a range of common noises you would usually experience in a suburb, but they do make a unique sound that people are unlikely to be familiar with. We’ve recently developed new propellers that emit a quieter, lower pitched sound that blend in better with other sounds in a residential neighbourhood, like cars driving by in the street. We’re continually looking for ways to improve our technology, and sound reduction measures are on the top of our list.
Wing’s aircraft are equipped with low-resolution, black-and-white cameras used primarily to assist with navigation and to help ensure the safety and reliability of operations. Wing’s drones don’t carry high-resolution cameras. At no time is there a live feed of images from the cameras to anyone — including the pilots supervising flights. They can not be pointed or zoomed to view objects on the ground, and in practice, people are not recognizable while the drone flies to its delivery destination.
We’re always looking for community feedback so if you have questions about our company or service, or are keen to sign up to be one of our first customers, please visit wing.com.
We’re excited to connect with local businesses to learn about how we can help them reach more customers faster, safer and more sustainably. If you are a local business owner interested in participating in our service, you can get in touch at wing.com/contact/merchant.
We’re currently operating in four locations: Christiansburg, VA in the United States, Helsinki in Finland and Canberra, ACT and Logan, QLD in Australia. If you live in one of these areas and would like to receive drone deliveries at your home, visit the appropriate city page to sign up (Christiansburg, Helsinki, Canberra, Logan). Our team will look at the information you provide and determine if your address has an appropriate delivery zone and is eligible for service. We’re constantly adding new homes, so even if we can’t serve you today, that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to sometime soon. Once we determine you’re eligible, we’ll send you an email with instructions on how to download our app and place your first order.
Finns are internationally renowned for being early-adopters of new technologies. Additionally, Helsinki has ambitious goals to decrease greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing the need for private cars in the city center. We believe that our all-electric, energy efficient delivery drones, could help reduce the number of cars on the road, and assist Helsinki’s transition to a more environmentally sustainable city.
Our operations in Finland are conducted with the permission of the Transport and Communication Agency (Traficom). We operate in compliance with all applicable Finnish aviation laws and regulations.