Wing Aviation, an Alphabet company, is collaborating with FedEx and Walgreens to launch a pilot program for autonomous drone delivery service in Christiansburg, Virginia.
- Companies have already turned to robots for deliveries, but drones have yet to prove themselves in the burgeoning on-demand delivery market.
- Wing and its collaborators look like they will be among the first to test the concept.
- If the pilot pans out, drones could help alleviate the so-called “last mile” problem.
If you live in parts of Christiansburg, Virginia, you could get your cold medicine delivered by FedEx drone. (Photo: FedEx)
Delivery within a few minutes
The drones fly roughly 100 to 200 feet in the air and weigh about 10 pounds. Travel speeds of up to 70 miles per hour are possible, and the drones have a range of 6 miles one-way. They will be able handle packages in the 2-to-3 pound range and deliver items within 5 to 10 minutes of placing your order from Walgreens. Rather than buzzing down to your doorstep or backyard for a landing, the drones will hover at around 23 feet off the ground and lower packages on a tether.
During the trial period, deliveries will be free, but customers will have to purchase their items from Walgreens. Interested residents can learn more about the trial program on Wing’s website.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Drone delivery service has been promised for years by Amazon. After a failed flight test, Uber had to backtrack on a program for residents in San Diego to order Mickey D’s and receive food deliveries by drones this summer. This pilot program looks like it might actually get off the ground.