Drone delivery service Wing has introduced its new AutoLoader curbside pickup scheme to further streamline its Wing Delivery Network.
The latest in drone delivery service Wing’s tech rollouts, the Wing Delivery Network is a decentralised, automated system that aims to support high-volume drone delivery across a major metro area or a more sparsely populated region. According to Wing CEO Adam Woodworth, the network is managed by logistics automation software that constantly allocates hardware resources at a city or metro-wide scale. The software manages three basic hardware elements: (1) Delivery drones, (2) “Pads,” where drones takeoff, land, and recharge their batteries between trips and (3) “AutoLoaders” that allow Wing’s partners to preload packages for automatic pickup.
The launch of the Autoloader system further develops this delivery network. The AutoLoader includes a spot where store employees can latch packages without waiting for the drone to arrive. Once the system confirms a package has been dropped off, a drone is dispatched to pick it up and then deliver it to the customer. There is no power or data connection required. According to Woodworth, the lightweight infrastructure “makes it easy to integrate into existing retail operations and support them in interesting new ways.”
According to a video released by the company, drones within the Wing Delivery Network can pick up, drop off, travel, and charge in whatever pattern makes the most sense for the entire system. For example, with multiple charging spots, they’ll have the flexibility to meet peaks in consumer demand across entire cities. Pad locations can be added simply, with the aircraft themselves used as the surveying tools to update and expand the network.
Wing plans to further roll out elements of Wing Delivery Network capabilities over the next 12 months, expect the system to be capable of handling tens of millions of deliveries for millions of consumers at a lower cost per delivery than ground transportation by mid 2024.
Last year, Wing launched its partnership with food delivery company DoorDash, and a delivery partnership with Coles following successful trials.
“Wing’s ultimate vision is to deliver people’s packages more efficiently and safely as part of an automated logistics system that routinely moves packages by the millions,” said Adam Woodworth, Wing CEO. “The economics of drone delivery improve dramatically with scale, and all of the salient metrics (access, safety, and sustainability) become far more meaningful at large volumes.”
“Up to this point, the industry has been fixated on drones themselves — designing, testing, and iterating on aircraft, rather than finding the best way to harness an entire fleet for efficient delivery. Wing’s approach to delivery is different. We see drone delivery at scale looking more like an efficient data network than a traditional transportation system. As with many other areas of technology, from data centres to smartphones, the physical hardware is only as useful as the software and logistics networks that make it meaningful for organisations and their customers.”
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