Drones drop packages on Virginia lawns in first-ever United States delivery

Daniel Fowler
October 19, 2019

It was the first drone company to receive the approval in the USA, beating out Amazon's Prime Air, which revealed its drone plans in 2013.

Following news about its plans, Alphabet's Wing has started delivering small packages to people in Virginia using drones.

So far, the service is only available to select customers in Christiansburg as part of a trial service. A parent with a sick child at home can have cold medicine delivered in minutes without having to leave the house; a worker on a tight schedule can get a hot lunch; a family on a picnic can order the sunscreen they forgot to grab before they left the house. The deliveries are made possible thanks to the company's Air Carrier Certificate received from the FAA, which officially makes Alphabet the first company to offer a commercial air delivery service to private residences in the US.

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Wing partnered with Walgreens, FedEx and local gift shop Sugar Magnolia to perform the tests in Christiansburg, Virginia. Michael and Kelly Collver ordered tissues, water, Tylenol and cough drops from Walgreens. The 81-year-old said she never thought she'd see something like it. The drones lower cargo weighing up to three pounds into customers' yards, making deliveries in as little as five to 10 minutes.

"We're looking at trends in cities including congestion and environmental sustainability", he said. They, and other members of the community, will have the chance to help shape the future of drone delivery in the U.S. The location has been selected as the test market because Wing has been working with Virginia Tech in nearby Blacksburg, Va.to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's integration pilot program since 2016. Months of additional testing and public outreach followed, as Wing and MAAP worked to understand the community's expectations and hopes for drone delivery.

In Wing's Australia pilot, Burgess said numerous deliveries are for food and cold medicine - things people may need when they don't want to leave the house.

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