Alphabet subsidiary, Wing, races to quiet its drone

The sound of the X Wing drone, which is scheduled to begin European trials in Finland next year, has been likened to a "chainsaw gone ballistic"


Alphabet subsidiary turned standalone entity, Wing, has announced it will be making some changes to its X Wing drone in an effort to dampen the noise it makes when performing deliveries, according to a report by Engadget. This follows a number of noise complaints it received through the duration of its last trial.

The X Wing drone's initial trial began back in 2014 and since then reports about the noise the devices create and the effect this has had on the people living in the rural Australian community where the trial took place has been widespread. There have been accounts of dog owners avoiding areas completely, with one resident comparing the sound the drones make when flying overhead to a "chainsaw gone ballistic" according to the Wall Street Journal.

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In response to these criticisms, the company announced it will be reworking its drones ahead of the European trials in Finland, currently slated for spring of 2019. However, due to the time it will likely take before the subtler drone can be developed, Wing has already started trying other methods to lessen their disruptive effect on residents such as taking them down different routes so they are not always going over the same houses and flying the drones at slower speeds so they produce less noise.

Other than the noise, most reports of the X Wing's use have been positive, with users within the operational area exalting the fact they can go on the app and have a package delivered to them 10–15 minutes later. When trialed in Finland, the drone service will be free until it is finally commercialized.

Delivery drones, much like autonomous cars, are one of the many races-to-the-front happening in the tech world right now, with Amazon Prime Air still testing its delivery drones in the UK. However, struggles with regulation have been cited as one of the most significant hampering forces to the technology.


Images courtesy X Wing Project, Alphabet Inc

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