Alphabet expands its Wing drone delivery service to Europe

5 Dec 2018

Wing drone in flight. Image: Wing

Alphabet company Wing is set to trial its technology in Finland.

Earlier this summer, two projects from Google’s X Moonshot Factory graduated to join the likes of Waymo, becoming fully fledged Alphabet companies. One of these projects was drone delivery service Wing, which made the cut in July of this year. Following extensive testing in Canberra, Australia, over an 18-month period, the company has seen fit to launch a trial here in Europe. 

In spring of 2019, Wing will launch a drone delivery service in Helsinki, Finland. Announcing the plans at the Slush conference in the same city, Wing CEO James Burgess said that the drones could deliver packages of up to 1.5kg for almost 10km.

The company has already been trialling its Hummingbird machines in Tampere, a location north of Helsinki. These particular drones lower packages using string, as opposed to landing directly. 

Finland a perfect test location

On choosing Finland as its first European testbed, Wing said: “Based on what we know about the winter weather in Finland, we’re pretty confident that if our drones can deliver here, they can deliver anywhere.” He added that Finns are well known as early adopters when it comes to innovative new technologies.

The Alphabet company has a form for residents in Helsinki to detail how drone delivery could help them in their day-to-day activities. It asks what users would like to receive to their door in less than 10 minutes, including choices such as over-the-counter medication and other useful items such as lunch, groceries or an ice scraper for car windows. 

It added that the drones allow “local businesses to quickly deliver their products to a large number of customers”. This could allow smaller enterprises to compete with massive online stores such as Amazon, which has massive infrastructural advantage when it comes to shipping. 

Amazon has also been making waves in the drone delivery department, having recently completed its first public drone delivery in the US. Uber has also said it will power Uber Eats with drones. 

Wing claims its drones run on clean electric power and are free from emissions. 

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects