Vicinity’s Drone Delivery Trial Points to Future


Drone landing pads are poised to become commonplace atop residential and office towers across Australia as retail giants look to the sky to increase delivery capabilities.

Vicinity Centres has announced a partnership with Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, to fly goods from its shopping centres' rooftops to customers.

A pilot program began in mid August this year at the Grand Plaza shopping centre in Logan, Queensland and has completed more than 2500 contactless deliveries.

Meanwhile. drone landing pads were becoming more popular in future-proofing strategies for towers in city spaces as well as emerging business and industrial parks.

A recent application for a 182-room hotel next to Westfield Paramatta included a drone landing pad on the rooftop at level 18.

The rooftop of a shopping centre with a drone launch area which has about 40 landing spots.
▲ The Wing launch pad at the Grand Plaza shopping centre in Logan is the first of many planned for Australia.

While Scentre Group is yet to announce any drone delivery capabilities, Vicinity is looking to scale up the service across its 61 centres.

Vicinity chief innovation and information officer Justin Mills said with almost 66 per cent of Australians living within 30 minutes of their centres, it could be a solution to last-mile delivery.

“The retail industry is changing and Vicinity is employing a test-and-learn approach in areas critical to the role of Australian shopping centres in the future,” Mills said.

“We believe this partnership with Wing will be an important component of our overall distribution and fulfilment strategy and support our new growth strategy.

“Exploring new technologies such as drone delivery means our retailers may provide customers with game-changing product deliveries in minutes rather than days, while also reducing their carbon footprint.”

Flying taxis, freight deliveries on the way

While retail customers are getting deliveries of sushi and iced tea via drone, plans are also under way to transport items and groups of people up to 800 kilograms.

Melbourne-based Skyportz recently signed a deal with to buy 100 electric-hybrid aircraft which require 30 metres to take off and land.

A small plane called an eSTOL flies over the Yarra River in Melbourne delivering passengers and freight.
▲ Skyportz is buying 100 hybrid electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft for its fleet.

Vehicles with true vertical take-off and landing require less space for infrastructure but use more energy to get into the air.

The company has about 400 potential property sites which could become “mini airports”.

Skyportz chief executive Clem Newton-Brown said they were starting with industrial and business parks with lots of space but car parks and transport stations were likely landing spots of the future.

“I don’t think there’s any major project going on at the moment that hasn’t contacted me to talk about how to future proof their buildings,” Newton-Brown told The Urban Developer.

“If you want it to last more than five or 10 years then you’re going to want to see if you can provide landing services for freight and passengers in the future.”

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