Residents in Canberra, Australia can get up in the morning, order a cup of coffee and relax on a chair while a drone delivers it to their front yard. This is what Ben Roberts' routine was like until a raven got 'territorial' and attacked the delivery drone, ABC reported. As Roberts was waiting for his coffee to arrive, he even managed to capture a video of the attack.
The drone at the receiving end is operated by Wing, a drone delivery service that operates in Australia, Finland, and the U.S., according to their website. Using a fleet of autonomous drones, Wing promises deliveries of medicines, food, coffee, office, and even hardware supplies, so that you do not have to step out of the comfort of your home. Residents in Canberra, who are under a lockdown since August 12, to contain the spread of COVID-19, have found respite in these services.
Once an order is placed, the delivery system autonomously creates a flight path after taking into account the air traffic and weather conditions, the company claims on its YouTube channel. The oddly-shaped drone lowers a cord, where the item to be delivered is secured and then pulled up close during flight. Once the drone reaches the delivery area, the package is lowered and gently left in a clear area.
During a routine such trip, however, a 'territorial' raven attacked the drone. ABC reports that ravens attack objects they find a threat during their nesting season, which usually extends from July to September. It is likely that the raven mistook the drone for a larger bird and hence a threat, although this is the first time a bird attack on a drone has been reported.
To safeguard the natural inhabitants of the sky, Wing, an off-shoot of Alphabet's Project X, has currently halted deliveries in the area. It is seeking the advice of ornithologists to safeguard the birds. While this is a noble deed, ABC also reported that many residents were quite opposed to the drone deliveries from the start. Wing was supposed to conduct a review of the impact of its services on wildlife however, it simply submitted surveys conducted overseas to obtain permission from the local government.
With the service suspended in the area, the raven has clearly won this round. But the next time, it might not be so lucky. In our zeal to deliver comfort and convenience, are we heading to an environmental disaster?