Drone delivery trials taking off in Co Dublin

In the middle of a green in a housing estate in Lusk, Co Dublin, staff from drone delivery company Wing gathered for another day of trials and test flights.

The firm, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has conducted 300,000 drone deliveries in the US, Australia and Finland and now it is trialling the service in Ireland.

“Should be here in one minute,” one of the team said as he looked up from his phone which was tracking the drone’s progress in real-time.

One minute later a low hum could be heard as a white drone appeared in the clear, blue sky.

It hovered overhead before a bright, yellow package was lowered to the ground on a string.

A customer can order a product via an app, it’s then loaded onto a drone before being delivered to a garden or open space where it can be retrieved.

Flight paths have to be agreed with regulators and the company insists the technology is safe.

“Our drones are programmed to have a controlled landing,” said Emmie Derback, Communications Manager, Wing.

“They are completely autonomous but a pilot is overseeing them so if there’s any kind of issue, they can stop that flight and it will slowly lower to the ground,” she said.

Wing said it thing Lusk as the location of its trial as it is a community with a strong local spirit and growing population, allowing it to hear from a wide range of people.

The company has held public community meetings and from Thursday, locals will be able to try out the service for themselves on a limited trial basis with details available on the Wing website.

Local man Albert Cruise said he is looking forward to seeing the drones in the sky.

“It’ll be nice to see actually because I remember the first little airplane that landed in Lusk in a field at the back of my house over 65 years ago,” he said.

A local woman expressed concerns about the technology.

“What if we have lots of drones in the sky and they start crashing into each other?” she asked.

Not possible says the company as there are safeguards in place and competing drone delivery operators are not allowed to fly in the same area.

The arrival of Wing comes amid the growth of Irish drone delivery company Manna.

It has conducted 100,000 flights in Ireland and has offered delivery services in Galway and Dublin.

The technology is best suited to smaller items like coffee, food and medicine so when it comes to heavier deliveries, at least for now, the sky has its limits.