back to article Strewth! Apoplectic Aussies threaten to blast noisy Google delivery drones out of the sky

Google has just completed a year-long test program for a drone delivery system in Australia – and has applied to launch the world's first commercial delivery drone operation this summer, Down Under. However, the locals aren't pleased. The folks who lived under the Project Wing trial program, held in the Canberra suburb of …

  1. ken jay

    not the only one, if any drones fly close enough to me to shoot down, that is my gear easy as

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Is that you, Yoda?

      If not, then what are you on about?

  2. raving angry loony

    redefining words

    Yeah, they're "environmentally friendly" so long as you don't include in that noise pollution, chasing birds away, and all the various other ills that Google (that company that does evil while claiming it doesn't) tried to sweep under the rug.

    Yet again, I'm guessing that those who profit from the things live nowhere near where they're allowed to operate. Or they're stone deaf.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: redefining words

      I think they dropped the "don't do evil" a long time ago. Pity that they never do this stuff near the boards homes isn't it? It would also seem that there are some folks in the neighborhood who want the service inspite of the problems which somehow seems rather selfish on their part.

      But, profit is everything and if it's not Google trying stuff like this, then it will be Amazon.

      1. zuckzuckgo Silver badge

        Re: redefining words

        I think their new motto is "Evil, what evil?" or maybe "Drone do evil"

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: redefining words

      Given that NABU and WWF are claiming that the number of bird is falling, especially in built-up areas, this should be one of the primary metrics for the success or failure of the project. If it drives even more wildlife away, it is a huge environmental negative.

      I'd much rather continue to have the chattering of hundreds of birds in the bushes around my home than a flying vacuum cleaner hovering over my house.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: redefining words

        A flying vacuum cleaner Hoovering over your house?

    3. Immenseness

      Re: redefining words

      Redefining "We can't stand the noise, it is making us sick, please stop" as "Residents in our most recent trial area have asked that we improve the sound of our drone".

      This is what pisses people off. Big corporations not listening, pushing out weasel words to make it sound like they are "listening", and the added insult of assuming we are all too dim to realise this, while ignoring those affected and carrying on regardless.

  3. cornetman Silver badge

    Jeez, they are friggin' loud.

    I'm not surprised they're up-in-arms after watching that video.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Shoot them down?

    I thought Aussies had given up all their guns?

    > government officials are still defiant

    Are they *elected* government officials? Then the answer should be obvious. When they go for re-election, then there should be commercials and billboards reminding people "this is the drone man"

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Shoot them down?

      Correct, there aren't many guns in private hands.

      Discharging a firearm in the suburbs is a good way to get your licence revoked. Although, it is Bonython, so you might not even be reported.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shoot them down?

      Gun regulation in both the UK and AU doesn't mean all guns are banned. That's a US right-wing propaganda view.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shoot them down?

        I assume the downvotes are from some of our ignorant west ponders?

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: Shoot them down?

          That, or ballista enthusiasts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shoot them down?

      There is a type of slingshot that can fire largish steel ball bearings with good accuracy once you put in a bit of practice. They are lethal to squirrels, will damage a coyote and discourage all but the hungriest puma. they have the advantage of being silent, easily concealed, and AFAIK legal pretty much anywhere. Just sayin'....

      1. raving angry loony

        Re: Shoot them down?

        Depends where they live. Slingshots are regulated in several Australian states, outright banned in others:

        That said, I don't see any regulations that cover this device, although I haven't looked very extensively:

  5. Giles C Silver badge

    Ouch, sounds like someone jumped in the middle of a beehive.

    That noise is worse than a lot of server rooms I have been in. In fact I think a nexus 7k on cold start is only slightly noisier

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      I read "Canberra trial" in the headline, and thought they were using Canberras as the delivery vehicle. I'm very disappointed that this isn't the case and it's only boring old drones.

      I wonder what the noise difference would have been?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    If the drones also multi-task by scanning wifi routers in range?

    Or converted to flying StingRay devices:

  7. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Google also says it has changed its delivery flight paths and slowed the drones down so they don't make as much noise.

    Does Google understand that they're not fixed-wing aircraft and that during the delivery phase the rotor speed is a function of mass, not velocity?

    1. Mephistro

      Probably, but they (Google) just want to give the appearance of "being doing something" about the issue until the service is full on. When the drones are fully deployed, the residents will notice that nothing has improved (quite the opposite), and it'll be too late to do anything that doesn't imply lots of expensive lawyers and a decade or two in the courts.

      Again, a big company wiping its posterior with citizens rights with the help of "officials" whose palms have been conveniently greased. Nothing to see here, move along.


    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      I should have said rotor load, but I think everyone knew what I meant even if I didn't. I'm the wrong type of engineer.

  8. VikiAi

    21st century skeet shooting.

    Fabulous random prizes to be collected!

  9. The Nazz

    Oder placed.

    A friend : "Hello, are you the Deliver by Drone Co, and can you actually meet your promised "5 minute delivery or your money back" promise?

    Co spokesbot ( in an annoying Yank accent) "We certainly are Sir, and yes we do. What would you like delivered and to where"

    A friend : "500kg of the finest natural excrement you can find."

    Co spokesbot " Excellent Sir, we can do that for you. And where would you like it delivered?"

    A friend : "onto the head of our local official, a certain xxxx.yyyyy who resides at 99, xxx Road. Oh, and no need to land, from a height of 15 feet will be fine."

    Co spokesbot "Excellent Sir, it's on its way. Is there anything else we can help you with today? No. Well have a good day Sir."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oder placed.

      > Oder placed.

      Should that have been "Odour placed."?

      1. IanRS

        Re: Oder placed.

        Or even ordure?

    2. VikiAi

      Re: Oder placed.

      If these things become ubiquitous buzzing around the sky, I don't imagine buying a similar model, giving it a quick look-alike paint job and weaponising it somehow, and slipping it in among the delivery and surveillance-disguised-as-delivery suburban sky-traffic would be particularly hard.

      (Not the icon - I'm not suggesting this as in any way at all good thing!)

      1. VikiAi

        Re: Oder placed.

        *Note* the icon.

        Also. Even if they decide to use some tech-woo 'license/authorisation transponder' for the things, with strong encryption being illegal here now, a transmitter capable of putting out a credible fake ID should be readily available quickly enough!

    3. zuckzuckgo Silver badge

      Re: Oder placed.

      >"500kg of the finest natural excrement you can find."

      Can we get an "Amazon Dash" style reorder button for this? I'd like to keep it handy while watching the news.

  10. big_D Silver badge


    the company claims, saying that 93 per cent of testers are "very or extremely satisfied with our service."

    That is the problem, the users of the service aren't the important factor, the drones don't depart the base and magically appear over the property of the customer, the drone has to traverse dozens or hundreds of other properties who haven't ordered anything and I very much doubt Google bother asking the owners of every property whether they were satisfied with the drone flying over...

    This is typical short sighted thinking with such technologies.

    Germany goes to the other extreme, it is illegal to fly any drones in built-up areas. Only open fields and model aircraft airports are allowed. It is much more peaceful here.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Users....

      Germany does a lot of things better..... no to mention beginning to take a nailed club to large tech companies unlawfully gathering and exploiting private data.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Users....

      Yes, I was also wondering what geographical distribution is used for selecting the testers. I would imagine that they a quite well spaced out so as to test various directions and distances under various weather conditions. The testers don't mind the noise because it's their goods arriving. I wonder how impressed the tested would be if their various neighbours were constantly getting deliveries?

      And as for Google contention that other suburban noises may be louder, I would ask whet those noises are and what is the volume/cause/duration of those noises compared to drones flying over regularly.

    3. Someone Else Silver badge

      @ big-D -- Re: Users....

      Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics....

  11. Giovani Tapini

    Just the locals "droning on" then

    Although they do have a point.

    High pitched sounds are indeed more irritating, most animals are more sensitive to higher pitches, and its freaking loud.

    The idea of slowing them down baffles me, as it just means they are noisy for longer, who'd have thunk that eh?

    Probably just needs a few cats chopped out of trees, or a nice neighbour with some barrage balloons to cause havoc (you can even get them with custom slogans... hint)

    It would be far better to use them in rural areas if they have the range for longer trips with single items, although I can imagine the sheep there probably would start to file their own complaints...

  12. johnrobyclayton

    Not all that usefull in urban areas, but in the sticks ...

    Trialling this in an urban or suburban area is a mistake.

    Too many neighbours to bother and it would only be used by people too lazy or time poor to go to the local chemist or corner store.

    Providing deliveries to people in remote areas would avoid the noise complaints. Only the target of the delivery is likely to hear the drone and it would be serving a definite need for remote families.

    Might be better to use a hybrid fixed wing - vtol drone configuration that can handle significant distance and weight while maintaining landing accuracy.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Not all that usefull in urban areas, but in the sticks ...

      "Too many neighbours to bother and it would only be used by people too lazy or time poor to go to the local chemist or corner store."

      Based on Googles justifications, this seems to be an areas with lots of sick young children, elderly and infirm people, a serious lack of shops so people are always running out of bread for their children's school lunches and hipsters so desperate for a coffee that they must have it right now (and are unable to make one for themselves at home)

  13. Mongrel

    Mini Banshees

    I used to live near a popular place to fly RC Planes and had many a sunny weekend ruined by the incessant whines of flying 2 strokes.

    These sound worse and are meant to be flying everyday - F that

  14. The Central Scrutinizer

    "But government officials stonewalled, claiming that since it hadn't received any "adverse aviation safety reports" that it was not able to halt the trial. Google responded by promising not to fly any drones over the Christmas to New Year period."

    What a load of the proverbial. Bloody residents wanting peace and quiet. The sheer temerity of wanting to have a peaceful home life. Fuck 'em, as long as Google gets to make money, right?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Most residential areas usually have some sort of laws or by-laws relating to noise abatement. I wonder if they don't do this in that area or have Google got a special dispensation?

      1. VikiAi

        Laws, by-laws, common sense, and basic consideration-for-others are just an inconvenience to be ignored in the name of 'disruptive' profit, I suspect.

      2. Graybyrd

        Prosecute noise? Good luck with that.

        Laws or by-laws relating to noise abatement have proven pretty much worthless here in the U.S. First, we're told that it's very difficult to determine at what exact decibel level noise is "too noisy." Second, we're told it takes precise measurement to determine a violation, at the time it is occuring. So very expensive sound meters must be acquired. Third, only an officer with extensive training to operate the sound measuring device is required to obtain data that will stand up in court. So... given that, guess how many noise violations are successfully prosecuted in court? Five less than the number of digits on your left hand, assuming you still have five. Add to that, Google's probable argument that all noise irritation is "highly subjective, defiant of scientific measure, and therefore not a credible factor to restrain its lawful business operations."

  15. Captain Hogwash


    The mind boggles. I've heard of a marathon and I'm aware of the practice of implying a large or long event by constructing words such as telethon, hackathon, etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bonython?

      My bonythons last, oh, at least two minutes.

      At least they used to.

      Age alas and a lack of contributors.

      AC For obvious reasons.

    2. Semtex451

      Re: Bonython?

      It could be the term that Google use when they get their own way

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bonython?

      We used to have fun with their school's name during district sports carnivals.

      Unfortunately the correct pronunciation is bənaɪθən.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    boycott the retailers

    If enough residents stop buying at any shop that offers drone delivery (and let the shops know) that should do the trick. Failing that, locate the drone base and get ball bearings for your catapult or a bit of radio frequency interference kit. Those drones aren't cheap and a few "accidents" should help the message get through.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: boycott the retailers

      And encourage other shops to have a big notice in the window, on web site etc: "Say no to drone delivery and noise pollution".

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: boycott the retailers

      While guns are hard to come by in Oz, I wonder how hard it is to get one of those net-launcher thingies...?

      1. VikiAi

        Re: boycott the retailers

        Boomerangs are more traditional around here. Some skill required if you hope to hit anything, but once you have mastered it, I doubt a drone would survive the encounter, considering they can take down a car-totaling roo!

        (Sadly, they don't come back if you are actually aiming to strike prey, rather than throwing them specifically to have them come back!)

  17. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Weather conditions?

    These seem to be quite large powerful drones. Is anyone aware of the no-fly weather conditions that would stop them working?

    Google are making claims about environmentally friendliness" but I wonder just how many noisy drone flights it takes to replace one small delivery van and it;s reliability to deliver in pretty much any weather conditions.

    1. F111F

      Re: Weather conditions?

      An electric van would solve the "green" portion of the argument as well...

  18. Brian Miller

    No vacuum cleaner as bad as that!

    I have never had a vacuum cleaner that made a sound as bad as that drone. It's more akin to a dentist's drill!

  19. misery

    Life Saving Suff Yes, Pizza No

    Drones have wonderful potential for saving lives, delivering urgent medicine quickly etc.

    They have no place whatsoever for delivering pointless crap.

    Chavs who want a pizza delivered via a noisy drone should be rounded and sent to Australia, or heckled.

    Walking around cities has become dangerous. White vans delivering pointless rubbishing driving about like nutters. Cyclist, riding in pedestrianised areas, weaving in and out of people at all hours, delivering unhealthy expensive fodder to simple folk who can't cook.

    And now the noise.

    Anyone noticed that 50% of manhole covers CLANK?

    The future looks pretty shite.

    1. Sherrie Ludwig
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Life Saving Suff Yes, Pizza No

      "Drones have wonderful potential for saving lives, delivering urgent medicine quickly etc."

      One would have to be a world-class wanker to object to the noise of a helicopter ambulance for a neighbor in need. But if he took to getting his pizzas delivered by helicopter on a regular basis, then yes, there's the difference. Finally found an icon that fits.

  20. VikiAi

    You know, we wouldn't have these sort of issues,

    if they had just started laying the city-wide pneumatic tube delivery systems back in the 19th century!

  21. Chris G

    I wonder

    How difficult it would be to make one of those rocket nets they ude to catch migrating birds?

    1. FozzyBear

      Re: I wonder

      Not hard, but you can buy them from "speciality" stores.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: I wonder


        Are you suggesting they have a rule 34 use?

  22. NohSpam

    If they were near my property, I'd fly a bunch of balloons, with the tether trailing long prop snagging filaments. I guess it would only keep these menaces above a base height but at least it's passive (not a gun). Alternatively, a cheap pop-bottle rocket with an Arduino based sound homing device?

  23. Mike 16

    Frog Boiling

    It's clearly {The illuminati, Masons, George Soros, Thetans, Roscicrucians,...} getting folks used to the sounds the invasion fleet will make as it arrives.

    We have a few more years as the experience ramps up from mosquitos with 2-meter wingspans and modified dental drills for propulsion to space-going DC-8s full of recycled aliens for "drone delivery" into a volcano.

  24. Someone Else Silver badge

    Who's 'we', Kimosabe?

    "Our choice is are we involved, are we trialling, are we engaging, are we finding ways to make this technology work in a way that benefits people, or are we just going to sit back and let it happen?" said the Canberra government's chief minister Andrew Barr in a recent interview to a national news outlet ABC.

    And we are voting your dead asses out of office!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who's 'we', Kimosabe?

      The ACT occasionally flirts with conservative governments but hasn't done so for 20 years. Even blowing $700m+ on the first stage of a (IMO white elephant) light rail service wasn't enough to lose Labor the last election. It'll take more than this.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



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