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Alphabet’s Wing begins making first commercial drone deliveries in the US


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Alphabet -owned drone delivery spin-out Wing is starting to service U.S. customers, after becoming the first drone delivery company to get the federal go-ahead to do so earlier this year.

 

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The Collvers are receiving their package in Christianburg, Va., which is where Wing and Walgreens will run this inaugural pilot of the drone delivery service. Walgreens gets a noteworthy credit in the bargain, becoming the first U.S. retailer to do a store-to-customer doorstep delivery via drone, while FedEx will be the first logistics provider to deliver an e-commerce drone delivery with a separate shipment.

 

Wing is also working with Virginia’s Sugar Magnolia, a retailer local to the state, and that part of the equation is focused on proving out how Wing and drone delivery can service last-mile e-commerce customers at their homes. Sugar Magnolia customers can get small items, including chocolates and paper goods, delivered directly to them via drone through the new pilot.

 

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Wing was able to do this with a new Air Carrier Certificate from the FAA that clears it for expanded service, specifically allowing Wing’s pilots to manage multiple aircraft flying without any human pilot on board at the same time, while providing service to the public.

 

It’s a big milestone when it comes to U.S.-based drone delivery, and another sign that people should get ready for these services to start to be a more regular fixture. Earlier this month, UPS also secured FAA approval to operate a commercial drone delivery service, so the trials will probably come fast and furious at this point — though widespread service is probably still quite a ways off as both regulators and operators look to learn from their first limited deployments.

 

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Wing’s delivery drones take flight for the first time in Virginia

The Google offshoot says it’s the first commercial drone service in the US

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Wing’s drone delivery service is now live in Virginia. The Alphabet subsidiary is now delivering snacks and health care products to residents of Christiansburg, Virginia, after receiving approval from the government and teaming up with major players like FedEx and Walgreens. Wing says it’s the first commercial drone delivery service in the US.

 

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 deliver goods to people who may live miles away and not in the drone operator’s line of sight.

 

A video posted by Wing shows an elderly couple and a family with young children using their smartphones to select items for delivery. The video then cuts to a worker placing the items in a cardboard box that looks like an oversized Happy Meal. The box is then attached to a yellow clip dangling in thin air; the camera pulls back and we see the box being retracted upward toward a hovering drone.

 

 

The drone flies across town, and eventually deposits the boxes in the yards of the waiting customers. The elderly couple get their yarn and bandages, while the family gets its snacks. A young boy points to the sky in what is surely an unprompted goodbye to the departing drone.

 

The company says it hopes to replace deliveries that are typically made by car or truck in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. It also bills itself as a delivery service for people with limited mobility options. Wing promises deliveries within “minutes” of the orders being placed to customers who live in Christiansburg’s “designated delivery zones.” And there are no extra fees for the deliveries, a spokesperson said. (If you live in Christiansburg and are interested in opting in, click here to sign up for the waitlist.)

 

 

Source: Wing’s delivery drones take flight for the first time in Virginia (The Verge)

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