Alphabet brings burritos-by-drone delivery to Australia

Alphabet hybrid drones, born from Alphabet's X innovation lab and dubbed Project Wing, can travel for up to 10km from their take off location at speeds of up to 120kmh using comparatively little power and carry a payload of up to 1kg. Now, the company is getting more detailed and tackling burrito delivery to specific addresses, a task that is not without challenges, according to James Burgess, a leader on the project. Burgess also suggested that the delivery drones could transport food, water and medical supplies to emergency service workers during natural disaster relief.

"This is more complicated than it looks", Burgess said. The solution, Burgess wrote, is developing algorithms that will allow the company to make safer deliveries.

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The issues range from programming the devices to maneuver safely around obstacles like parked cars or outdoor furniture to following customers' wishes to set down perishable food items close to their kitchens. Alphabet's Project Wing drone delivery said Monday that it's now testing drone deliveries in Australia with two local companies in the country.

Guzman y Gomez and Chemist Warehouse will teach Project Wing how to ensure orders are sent to their staff smoothly, and how to ensure they can easily pack products onto the drones.

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Its ordering and delivery system will need to handle hot food from Guzman y Gomez and retail goods of all different shapes and sizes from Chemist Warehouse's extensive catalog of products.

Alphabet's drones delivered burritos to people on the campus of Virginia Tech past year, but the flights were across a field.

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"The information we gather from both of these test partners will help us build a system so that merchants of all kinds can focus on what they're good at - like making food or helping people feel healthier - rather than being distracted by complex delivery logistics".

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