Drone delivery program launches in Christiansburg

By Sean Galvin

October 25, 2019

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… your diapers?

Last week a Google-backed company, Wing, started a pilot program delivering drugstore items via drone in rural Virginia. Residents around Christiansburg can now place orders via the Wing app and have items like pain relievers, bandages and tissues dropped off at their door within minutes for no additional fee.

Wing says it is the first delivery service to use drones in the United States. Back in April, Wing became officially certified as a commercial air carrier by the FAA.

Wing is working with FedEx Express and Walgreens on the project’s launch.

Drugstore products work well for the delivery method as many of the items are both relatively small and light, and consumers typically want their products delivered quickly. Additionally, most customers live only a few miles away from their nearest store. 

Wing released a YouTube video to give a glimpse into how the process works. In it, happy families place orders via an app, prompting an employee at a nearby pharmacy to fill their order. He places the requested items into a cardboard box and attaches it to the drone. The drone then flies to the families and lowers the package to their yards via a string.

Wing says it hopes that eventually, drones will help limit the number of cars on the road. The program is expected to run until October of next year.

Wing isn’t the only company making strides in the drone delivery market. On Monday, CVS and UPS announced they would also be launching their own program in the near future as well. It is likely to take several years before any of the programs are fully operational on a larger scale, however, as they need to receive wider clearances from the FAA first.

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