Alphabet’s Wing says Logan is the ‘drone delivery capital of the world’, as Queenslanders order thousands of coffees and roast chooks by air

Alphabet’s Wing says Logan is the ‘drone delivery capital of the world’, as Queenslanders order thousands of coffees and roast chooks by air
A Wing drone in flight in Logan, Queensland.
  • Logan in Queensland, with a population of around 300,000, has been the most successful global testing ground for drone delivery service Wing.
  • The Alphabet-owned company says the Queensland city has set an example it wants to export to the rest of the world.
  • Locals have been ordering everything from coffee to hammers for the last two years, making more than 50,000 orders in 2021.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Logan has become the unlikely poster boy for the future of delivery services, with a Google company using it as ground zero for its unmanned flying technology.

Drones descending on homes strapped with hot coffee and roast chooks have become a common sight in the Queensland city, two years after Wing set up shop there.

Despite operating in larger cities from Canberra to Helsinki, the Alphabet subsidiary says Logan has emerged as a clear standout for how it wants to operate globally.

“Logan is really becoming the drone delivery capital of the world and what’s happening here is helping shape what this will look like elsewhere,” head of policy and community affairs Jesse Suskin told Business Insider Australia.

Wing head of policy Jesse Suskin in Logan, Queensland.

The city, just south of Brisbane, has embraced the technology, with the company delivering thousands of items to households via its army of drones every week.

Now available in 19 suburbs, residents are able to order food and household items from sushi, and bread to hot coffee.

“Our drones fly generally about 45 metres above the ground in what is otherwise under-utilised airspace and they fly at about 110 kilometres per hour which means we deliver items usually in just a few minutes time,” Suskin said.

“In the last eight months, we’ve completed 50,000 deliveries so we’ve really been doing this at scale for quite some time.”

Drones fly out from a dedicated delivery facility, where partnered businesses are “co-located”, supplying their items direct to Wing who then delivers them.

“When we arrived in Logan everyone told us we need to deliver for this one coffee shop that everyone in the area loves, so they set up a dedicated kitchen at our facility where their barista prepares coffee on-site for delivery exclusively by drone,” Suskin said. “This year, we’ve delivered 10,000 cups.”

But the range goes beyond food and drink. Tradies can get tools and materials delivered to their homes before they head out to a job site without having to make detours. Families meanwhile order hundreds of showbags for their kids following the cancellation of the Royal Queensland Show, known as Ekka.

Whether it is enabling families to order essential items without having to pack the kids into the car, or an increasing desire for contactless delivery during lockdown, Wing believes the use case is not only there but growing.

With a population of around 300,000 people, Suskin says Logan is in the “sweet spot” for the service and a model for where Wing would look to expand to in the future.

“It’s the kind of city where we can help solve the last mile challenge. If you don’t live within walking distance from that litre of milk or cup of coffee drones can really solve for that and take cars off the roads at the same time,” Suskin said.

“In terms of being a similar size, there’s a lot of cities where we think this could work, [like] Florence, Manchester, [and] New Orleans.”

With the styrofoam drones themselves weighing around five kilograms, Wing claims they rank as a much more efficient means of transportation than traditional deliveries.

“If we delivered you a dry box of pasta, the energy required to get it to you would be less than the energy it would take to boil it,” Suskin said.

While there are some limitations to the delivery — drones may be less useful in densely-populated urban areas for example — Suskin thinks the technology could be widely adopted.

“If you go back to when cars first hit the road, nobody would have envisioned how popular they were going to become and how they became integral to society,” he said.

“Step by step I think we’re seeing a similar development [with drones]. They’ll become just another feature of our cities.”