DoorDash is teaming up with Alphabet’s Wing to offer customers an easier way to arrange for goods to be delivered via drone. Beginning this week, a small number of DoorDash users in Logan, Australia will be able to order certain convenience and grocery items through the DoorDash app and have them delivered by a Wing drone, typically in 15 minutes or less, Wing says.
The experience looks much like it does with a typical DoorDash delivery. A dedicated “DoorDash Air” carousel in the app highlights the items eligible for Wing drone delivery (in Berrinba, Browns Plains, Crestmead, Heritage Park, Kingston, Logan Central, Marsden, Regents Park and Waterford West to start), and the GPS location of orders is tracked in real time. Perhaps the only major difference is, unlike a standard DoorDash delivery, customers who order via drone will be asked to specify a delivery spot in the app where their package can be safely lowered from the drone once it arrives.
As Wing notes on its corporate blog, the DoorDash partnership is a step toward opening Wing’s platform so that its delivery service can be accessed via third-party apps.
“While Wing has traditionally provided delivery services directly to residential and business customers, to further accelerate our technology development, we’ll be increasingly working with marketplaces and logistics partners to expand their delivery options,” Wing Australia GM Simon Rossi said in a press release. “[We’re focused on] making fast drone delivery affordable and sustainable for them and their customers.”
For DoorDash, the collab signals the company’s ongoing commitment to autonomous delivery tech. Last year, DoorDash introduced DoorDash Labs, a division dedicated to building automation and robotics solutions for last-mile deliveries. Separately, DoorDash has piloted delivery robots from vendors, including Starship Technologies.
“Drone delivery can provide an excellent complement to our ground delivery services,” DoorDash Australia GM Rebecca Burrows said in a statement. “DoorDash delivery drones create a quick, efficient delivery option for smaller orders weighing just over a kilo, and free up ground delivery services for larger deliveries that provide better compensation to drivers.”
Wing’s tie-in with DoorDash comes at an especially precarious time for the drone delivery industry. Technical, logistical and financial hurdles have impeded major players’ progress toward ubiquitous drone delivery — assuming that’s even an achievable vision. A report from Bloomberg earlier this year revealed that Amazon, for example, which has been developing delivery drones for years, has yet to overcome key safety concerns and technological limitations.
Wing has wisely kept its scope smaller, focusing on a select few markets, including several cities across Australia, Finland and Virginia and Texas in the U.S. The company has had to contend with its own share of issues, including neighbors irked by the drones’ loud propellers and weather-related flight disruptions. But Wing has achieved some success to date, reaching 200,000 lifetime deliveries in March 2022 and inking partnerships with supermarket chains like Australia’s Coles and Walgreens.
According to analyst firm Research and Markets, the global drone package delivery market could be worth $5.56 billion by 2030. Among others, carriers like FedEx and UPS and retailers such as Walmart are testing autonomous drone cargo flights for short-haul deliveries.