Delivery drone company Wing has applied to extend its licence to fly in Canberra’s north until early next year, as it embarks on the next phase of its divisive service.

If granted, the approval means the Google-linked company would be able to continue operating before the planned introduction of drone noise regulations.

Wing’s head of Australian operations, Terrance Bouldin-Johnson, with one of the company’s delivery drones. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Late last year, we wrote about a foldable drone from Davide Scaramuzza’s lab at the University of Zurich that could change its shape in mid-air to squeeze through narrow gaps. That drone used servos to achieve a variety of different configurations, which made it very flexible but also imposed a penalty in complexity and weight. At ICRA in Montreal earlier this year, researchers from UC Berkeley demonstrated a new design for a foldable drone, able to shrink itself by 50 percent in less than half a second thanks to spring-loaded arms controlled by the power of the drone’s own propellers.

Wing has been offering drone deliveries to 100 homes in Crace, Palmerston and Franklin since April 23, after gaining approvals from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and federal transport department.

Its licence, which placed restrictions on the number of daily deliveries and operating hours, initially permitted flights until May 31, before that was extended until July 31.

A spokesman for the federal transport department confirmed that Wing had applied in the past week to extend its licence until early next year.

The spokesman said the application was being assessed, and could not provide further details, including on what restrictions might be imposed as part of any new approval.

The early roll out of Wing’s Gungahlin operation has been closely monitored by the department, which has conducted noise testing on flights.

However, the service has not been subject to territory or federal noise regulation, as none presently exist.

As reported in The Canberra Times, the department now has launched an investigation into potential noise restrictions for commercial and recreational drones, after an ACT Assembly inquiry exposed significant gaps in the regulation of the emerging technology.

The department has said it would closely monitor commercial operations such as Wing’s during the review process, but has ruled out retrospective enforcement action once the new rules are in place.

A Wing spokeswoman would not comment directly on its latest licence application, saying only that “Wing will continue to work with the Australian government to obtain all approvals necessary to make our service available to more customers in north Canberra”.

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Credits: canberratimes


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