A precautionary landing of a Wing delivery drone caused electricity to be cut to around 2,000 homes in an Australian town Thursday after the craft accidentally came to rest on power lines. The good news, according to one report, was utility workers arrived to find the food order payload still nice and hot.
The incident took place in the Queensland town of Browns Plains, a suburb of Logan that Wing last year hailed as the “the drone delivery capital of the world.” The company bestowed the title after the area surpassed the 100,000th aerial delivery mark last October. It was perhaps only logical, therefore, that if the company were to experience an operational hiccup somewhere within its booming Australian activity, it would be in or around Logan.
That nagging probability became reality Thursday afternoon when around 2,000 Browns Plains households lost power after a Wing drone came down on 11,000 volt electrical lines. An unidentified spokeswoman for Google’s corporate cousin told Australia’s ABC News the incident occurred after a “precautionary controlled landing” of the craft had been undertaken for unspecified reasons.
Current was cut to about 2,000 local homes for 45 minutes, with 300 of those remaining offline for three hours as the network was fully inspected. Wing says it alerted the Energex utility that manages the grid as soon as it realized where the delivery drone had landed – ish.
Conflicting details in reports on the incident leave it unclear as to exactly what happened immediately after the UAV came down. Photos accompanying articles show the Wing UAV resting neatly across two lines, its payload bay suspended between them. Accounts differ from there.
ABC News quotes Energex spokesman Danny Donald saying the food order Wing had been transporting was “still hot inside the drone’s delivery box when the crew got there” – something of a silver lining for Wing in an otherwise irking event.
Or it would be if Melbourne daily The Age hadn’t quoted the same Donald saying, “The drone caught fire and fell to the ground,” with workers never sure just what the torched Wing craft had been trying to deliver.
“We didn’t actually have to get the drone off, as such, it actually caught fire and incinerated itself,” Donald told the paper. “This has never happened before, so it’s certainly not a regular occurrence and I guess that’s a good thing.”
A final observation that, Energex, Wing, and all residents around “the drone delivery capital of the world” can all agree with.