Google’s drone delivery service in Canberra, Australia, has been temporarily shut down after several of its aircraft were attacked by ravens. It’s early spring Down Under and the nesting birds are attacking the drones, which have been carrying everything from coffee to prescription drugs to customers in the nation’s capital since 2019. Google announced the pause in service last week after “several” raven attacks. In fact, the birds appear to be refining tactics in their attempts to protect their nests.

Ben Roberts is one of thousands of customers who’s grown accustomed to getting his morning coffee delivered by drone. One morning he shot video of the approaching drone and captured the bizarre aerial battle. The raven swooped in from behind and grabbed one of the pylons housing the rotors with its beak. After a brief tug of war, the bird broke off its attack and the drone righted itself and dropped Roberts’ coffee. “It’s a matter of time before they bring one down,” Roberts told the Canberra Times. “They think it’s Terminator or something.” 

Google’s drone contractor Wing said in a statement it’s consulting with bird experts on what to do about the attacks. “We are committed to being strong stewards of the environment, and would like to have ornithological experts investigate this further to ensure we continue to have minimal impact on birdlife in our service locations,” the statement said. “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.”

12 COMMENTS

    • I fully agree. All of the promotional videos for autonomous delivery drones and eVTOL vehicles conveniently keep the sound on mute. Can you image the level of noise pollution that would occur if these things followed the normal pattern of development where everyone and his brother needs coffee delivered to them in the morning? The Ravens are doing us a favor.

      • In fairness, not *all* are on mute – here’s a recent vid from Lilium Jet covering the approach and landing of their 5th gen demonstrator: youtube.com/watch?v=8FK79N3TWEQ.

        Lilium is also the only one that I can recall which stresses their low noise levels (made possible by their ducted fan technology). You really can’t judge noise level from a video, but the nature of the sound – a jet hiss – seems to be far less obnoxious than what you get from open props.

  1. This pleases me. Indeed it’s the best news I’ve heard today.

    As a pilot and as a scientist birds fascinate me and I study them. I especially appreciate ravens.

    Never have I appreciated them more than now. If anyone ever doubted their superior intelligence hating drones should confirm that they are indeed wonderful birds.

  2. Ravens are really smart. I wonder if one will try dropping pebbles into the fan blades? I don’t know if they have the legal protections enjoyed by hawkd or other birds of prey. Great video. I’m rootin’ for the bird.

  3. I once had an Osprey take out a small RC “Foamie” I was flying at a park near the water. I was on a small hill and flying a little acro with the plane in the small valley in front of me. Just as I got a battery warning that it was time to land – the Osprey struck from above and shredded the plane. The motor, battery and ESC fell to the ground and the foam fluttered down. Surprised, the Osprey circled a couple of times looking down on the havoc it had wrought and then decided there was probably not much meat to be had and flew off. I spent an hour wandering all over the park picking up foam chips and fragments.