23 September 2021

It's a case of birds versus drones in Gungahlin's skies

| Lottie Twyford
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Drone being attacked by a bird

Wing delivery drone being attacked by a raven. Photo: Screenshot.

If dealing with everything currently going on at ground level isn’t enough, footage of what appears to be a raven attacking a drone in the skies above Gungahlin has emerged in recent days.It’s being reported the drone in question was carrying a Gungahlin resident’s morning coffee for delivery during COVID-19 lockdown when it was spotted by a territorial raven who wasn’t too happy with a mechanical newcomer on its turf.

In the video, you can see the raven going in repeatedly to peck at the white drone, although it’s not in any way interested in what the drone is carrying.

The video, which has been posted online and shared on a page called SkyStock, has racked up thousands of views.

The incident, and other similar ones, led to Wing – the company that operates the drones in Canberra’s north – having to temporarily stop operating in some streets in the suburb of Harrison.

A spokesperson for Wing said some birds demonstrating territorial behaviour have been identified in the area and that the advice of ornithological experts is being sought to further investigate exactly what is going on.

“We are committed to being strong stewards of the environment and we have, and continue to, take advice from local ornithological experts,” said the spokesperson.

Wing drone in flight

One of these quiet Wing delivery drones has been attacked by a territorial bird while in flight in the Gungahlin suburb of Harrison. Photo: Wing.

However, the spokesperson said that while it’s common for bird species to demonstrate this territorial behaviour and swoop at moving objects, of the tens of thousands of deliveries conducted by the company,instances of direct contact with birds has been extremely rare“.

“In the unlikely event that a bird makes direct contact with our drone, we have multiple levels of redundancy built into our operations to ensure we can continue to fly safely,” said the spokesperson.

“Consistent with those procedures, the drone completes its delivery safely, including delivery of food and drink that remains untouched in our delivery package and then returns to our facility.

“To our knowledge, no birds have been injured during the swooping instances, and anecdotally we’ve heard from some customers that they’ve seen the ravens swooping at a range of objects in the area, including cyclists, pedestrians, cars and garbage trucks.”

While Wing’s operations are currently paused for some customers in Harrison, the company will continue to serve the thousands of Canberrans who use its drone delivery service.

Drone delivery has proved more popular than ever during this current COVID-19 lockdown, with Wing having made more than 10,000 deliveries in Canberra since the lockdown began in August 2021.

Wing has been operating in the ACT since 2019 and can deliver a range of items including food, coffee, medicine, hardware and office supplies.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, the company has boosted its delivery service model from five to seven days a week.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on The RiotACT.

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