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Interview: Wing CTO Adam Woodworth talks about drone delivery today

By Chris Stonor

Wing, a subsidiary of U.S Alphabet Inc, is one of the pioneers to offer drone delivery for the public in parts of Australia, America and Finland, whether it is transporting medical products and cupcakes or library books, coffee and general homestore items.

Wing CTO Adam Woodworth is one of the most influential aviation experts in the drone industry today, yet very few people would recognise him, reports He has been instrumental in developing Wing’s aircraft, and delivering on the vision of drones as part of the supply chain.  Woodworth doesn’t view drone delivery as upending the supply chain, rather as a way of improving it.

In a rare public appearance at this year’s SxSW conference, (March 16th-21st), Woodworth talked about developing a craft that allows millions of people to experience drone delivery in their daily lives.

“Working in technology there is a lot of emphasis placed on disruption. How are we disrupting the current approach? And we usually find technical solutions that fundamentally change how things operate.

“Drone delivery has the opportunity to not be as traditionally disruptive, but perhaps complementary to the existing solutions. Wing drones are never going to deliver a couch. They’re not going to go deliver a 50 pound bag of rice. But they are going to deliver small goods that would otherwise be carried around in a large car or in a big delivery van. And I think that there’s space in this industry so complementary solutions can come together to collectively solve a hard problem.”

He continues, “One of the most interesting questions I receive is, ‘What goes in the box?’ The Wing delivery drone can hold a package up to three pounds, so ‘what goes in the box’ has yielded a lot of very interesting answers. You get the more traditional things like coffee, prepared food, over the counter medicines, all those sort of things you typically associate with on-demand delivery. But we’ve also seen people apply this unique way of moving goods to their own problems.

“In Virginia, we delivered library books for school kids in the midst of COVID-19. In Finland, we’ve delivered Halloween candy. In Australia, we’ve even moved small construction goods for folks on a job site. I think the most fascinating bit is that the answer to that question is user-driven.”

While Woodworth and Wing have assisted in transforming drone delivery from an idea to a reality, the company is ready now to see that reality expand.

“Where does the industry, where does Wing go from here? We’ve answered some of the fundamental questions. This industry has moved out of the space of ‘what if’. We’ve moved out of the realm of science fiction, where you really only had the imagination of what the system could do. I think that the technology is ready, the customers are ready, the world is ready for the next phase of aviation.”

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