Alphabet’s drone delivery company is testing a quieter delivery drone after its original model annoyed townspeople and their dogs

  • In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wing – the drone delivery company that spun out from Google – was annoying residents in the Australian town where it tests its services.
  • On Friday, a Wing spokesperson confirmed with Business Insider that it has begun testing a quieter drone that “blends in” with nearby residential sounds.
  • Neighbours in the report likened the sounds of the original delivery drones to a “chain saw gone ballistic.”

Nine days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported on complaints from residents of Bonython, the Australian township where Wing, the drone delivery company spun out of Google, had set up shop.

Wing is testing using drones to deliver everyday staples like groceries, hardware, and over-the-counter medicines. Townspeople compared the sounds of Wing’s delivery drones as a “chain saw gone ballistic,” causing some to spend less time outside, even as it caused the town’s canine population a considerable amount of anxiety.

On Friday, a Wing spokesperson confirmed with Business Insider that it has begun testing a quieter drone that “blends in” with nearby sounds.

“We’ve developed and are testing a new propeller that results in a quieter, lower-pitched sound that blends in with other sounds that commonly occur in residential neighbourhoods,” the spokesperson said.

As reported by the Journal, Wing responded to noise complaints by altering flight routes – so as to not always fly over the same homes – and by reducing the drones’ airspeed. The report mentioned that a quieter drone was being developed, but hadn’t indicated that testing had begun.


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Wing was first unveiled in 2014, under the name Project Wing, as part of the Google X skunkworks. In 2015, X moved under the auspices of Alphabet, Google’s newly-formed parent company, taking Project Wing with it. In mid-2018, Alphabet dropped the “project,” spinning Wing out into its own fully-fledged company.

Wing is Alphabet’s answer to competitors like Amazon, which have expressed ambitions to move the future of logistics to the sky. Last month, Wing announced it will launch its first European delivery services in Finland in spring 2019.

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