Alphabet’s Wing drones hit 200,000 deliveries as it announces supermarket partnership

Alphabet’s drone service Wing this morning announced another milestone, as it hit 200,000 commercial deliveries. The number, which the firm says excludes test flights, comes half-a-year after it hit 100,000. Australia, which has been the primary market for testing and commercial deployment, comprises 30,000 of those deliveries in the first two months of this year.

Broken down further, Wing says it was up to more than 1,000 deliveries in a day, or one delivery every 25 seconds or so. The big round number arrives as it announces a commercial partnership with Coles, one of Australia’s leading supermarket chains. The deal finds Wing delivering 250 different items, from food stuffs to healthcare products and toiletries, in Australia’s capital, Canberra.

Other recent additions to the delivery service include KFC and Vietnamese food from Roll’d, as well as rapid COVID-19 tests from Friendly Grocer and first aid kids from St. John Ambulance QLD. Big, round number aside, the efficacy of drone delivery in urban areas is still a question mark, as many services are more actively eyeing terrestrial robotics as the future of last-mile delivery.

The technology makes some sense for rural and other harder to reach locales, but Wing insists that its approach is right for city life, as well.

“Integrating drone delivery into daily life isn’t just an added convenience,” Google says in a blog post today. “It holds the promise to reduce traffic congestion, accidents, and greenhouse gas emissions while growing sales for businesses all the while giving people more time back in their busy lives. If you want a peek into that future, just look to Australia.”

Amazon’s competing service, Prime Air, meanwhile, has suffered layoffs during the pandemic, leaving questions around the viability of that delivery method.