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Drone delivery leader Wing heads to new country for next pilot program

Residents of a small town in Ireland will soon be able to receive deliveries by drone after Wing announced it was launching a pilot program there.

The drone delivery specialist is already running pilots in Brisbane and Canberra in Australia, Helsinki in Finland, and several locations in the U.S., and in the coming weeks it will launch a “small-scale” effort in Lusk, 10 miles north of Dublin.

Wing executive Margaret Nagle said this week the Alphabet-owned company is keen to launch a second pilot in the European Union as it believes it’s recently made notable progress in developing regulations for uncrewed aviation that could offer a framework for safe and scalable drone delivery.

Nagle offered few details about the precise nature of the drone delivery service that Lusk residents can expect. However, if it’s anything like its current efforts, then it’s likely that Wing has partnered with a number of local businesses that will allow select online shoppers to order items such as snacks and drinks, small household items, and medications. After an order has been placed, a drone will fly to the delivery address and lower the goods on a tether before returning to base.

In other cities where it’s operating, Wing has had to deal with complaints from some residents upset by the noise of drones buzzing over their neighborhood. Wing has since designed a quieter drone in a bid to ease such concerns. Another setback to Wing’s drone project occurred last month when one of its flying machines landed on power lines in a Brisbane neighborhood, temporarily knocking out the electricity supply for a number of nearby residents.

Keen for a smooth launch in Lusk, Nagle said Wing has been having preliminary talks with local leaders about its proposed pilot program. In further efforts to show that it’s listening, it’s also inviting residents of the town to a community meeting next week where they can ask questions about Wing’s plans and see the drones up close before they launch into the skies.

Nagle revealed that earlier this month Wing passed a milestone when it completed its 300,000th delivery globally.

“As this technology continues to expand to new communities, we believe drone delivery will improve the way cities and towns operate by reducing road congestion and creating new economic opportunities for local businesses,” the executive said. “Our electric drones replace fossil fuel-intensive car trips, reducing local and global pollution. This is an additive service that can be incorporated into existing supply chains, giving residents quicker, more efficient access to small deliveries.”

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