Wing, the Alphabet-owned drone delivery startup, has announced that it will launch a trial service in Finland next year (via TechCrunch). Starting in spring 2019, the company will offer 10-minute deliveries of items of 1.5kg or less in weight over distances of up to 10km in the nation’s capital, Helsinki. Deliveries will be available for free as part of the trial, although the company intends to charge for them if a full commercial service launches.
While the company’s existing trial in Australia has already seen it deliver thousands of items including burritos, home hardware, and medicine, Wing hasn’t yet decided what it intends to pack into its Finnish drones. Instead, it’s currently taking suggestions for what it should deliver on its website. Potential items include a range of food options, pain killers, and emergency essentials like diapers or an ice scraper.
Quicker deliveries at cheaper prices
As well as offering quicker deliveries at cheaper prices to both businesses and customers, Wing claims its battery-powered drones have an environmental advantage over ground-based alternatives. The company notes that 12 percent of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions result from road transportation, and that its deliveries have a carbon footprint that’s 22 times lower than traditional alternatives.
Wing’s biggest drone-delivery rival Amazon has been testing “Prime Air” drone deliveries in the UK since 2016. However, neither Amazon nor Wing have yet conducted any large-scale tests in the US, due in part to the country’s stricter aviation rules. An attempt by Wing to deliver Starbucks in the US was wound down after a couple of months, while Amazon has been quiet since its delivery of sunscreen to a robotics conference in 2017.