In April, Wing received approval for a drone delivery service in Virginia. The Alphabet division announced today that a pilot program is coming this fall with FedEx Express and Walgreens.
Like in Australia, Wing is testing the “benefits of drone delivery,” and calling this the “most advanced drone delivery trial in the United States to date.” The FAA earlier this year certified the former X moonshot project as the first “air carrier” stateside, thus allowing for the delivery of commercial goods by drone.
The pilot, which is part of the US Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program, aims to demonstrate the viability of drone delivery, which is still very much in a nascent stage of development. Earlier this year, Wing became one of the first drone operators to be certified as a commercial air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing it to autonomously deliver commercial goods to recipients that may be miles away and not in the operator’s line of sight.
Wing is partnering with Walgreens on transporting medication, and package delivery with FedEx. They are also working with local business Sugar Magnolia on delivering small items.
Walgreens and Wing will make over-the-counter medicines and other health and wellness items available for delivery on-demand, through the air, and within minutes of ordering. Walgreens will be the first retail pharmacy to offer drone delivery in the United States. The two companies will use the trial in Southwest Virginia to explore how to improve the accessibility of healthcare.
Eligible FedEx Express customers who live within designated delivery zones in Christiansburg, and who opt in to the Wing delivery service, will be able to receive some packages via delivery drone. Wing has designed a customized box that its delivery drones will use to transport eligible FedEx deliveries directly to the homes of intended recipients.
A drone with 12 propellers will fly to a recipient’s house minutes after an order is placed and then hover as the package, attached to a wire, descends. Wing designed a custom-branded container for FedEx, and reused their existing packaging with Walgreens. In December, Wing announced that it was launching a trial service in Finland where it would offer 10-minute deliveries for free within the country’s capital. Wing also was approved to launch its first public drone delivery service in Australia.