Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet (Google), this week became the first company to deliver by drones to the United States, in the small town of Christiansburg, which had been chosen for this first full-scale American test. What can the 22,000 residents of this rural town in Virginia, on the east coast, get delivered? Products via FedEx, drugs sold by the Walgreens Pharmacy, and chocolates and other goodies from a local store.
Wing, which already operates in two Australian cities and Helsinki, Finland, said in a statement that the first deliveries were made on Friday afternoon to Christiansburg, “Paving the way for the country’s most sophisticated drone delivery service”. A family ordered medicine and cough drops, paracetamol, tissues and water bottles from the pharmacy, via the Wing app, according to the company. An elderly gentleman ordered a birthday present for his wife.
The ‘last mile“
The drone provided the “last mile” of a FedEx delivery, for which the couple had previously accepted the air distribution option. The yellow and white drones are loaded with their packages at a local center called “nest”, where Wing employees can place up to 1.3 kg of products, deliverable within a 10 km radius. They do not land in the customers’ garden; they come to a stop at a good height and lower their cargo by a rope.
Multiple companies want to launch similar services, including Amazon, UPS, and Uber Eats. But it was Wing that got the first license from the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), which allows Wing pilots to control multiple drones at the same time.