Google’s Wing drones to drop off library books for kids

Children in Virginia will soon have the excitement of seeing their library books delivered by drone.

The new service, which comes courtesy of Google’s “Wing” drone delivery service, launches this week in the town of Christiansburg, the Washington Post reports.

Wing drones have been delivering household goods and meals to customers in the town since last year after Google became one of the first companies in the U.S. to receive regulatory approval for such a service.

Impressed by the drones’ delivery speed, as well as the sheer fun of seeing a flying machine drop off the shopping, local middle school librarian Kelly Passek thought the drones would be a great way to persuade more kids to get reading during the summer months while schools are off and public libraries remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alphabet-owned Google agreed, and recently set about adding library books to its trial drone delivery service.

“I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone,” Passek told the Post.

The librarian is doing much of the work herself, including managing students’ online book requests, tracking down the book at a local library, wrapping it up, and taking it to Wing’s drone facility for its flight to the student’s home. There are 600 students in the service’s catchment area, so Passek could have a busy summer ahead of her. Oh, and if you’re wondering how the books will be returned, the students can take them into school at the start of the fall semester.

For restaurant meal orders or general shopping items, Christiansburg customers use a specially designed app to place their orders. A Wing drone then flies to the delivery address and lowers the consignment into the customer’s yard, or onto their driveway, using a tether.

“Our near-term focus is providing a great experience for our customers in Christiansburg, and getting feedback on how they can best use the service,” a Wing spokesperson told Digital Trends when it originally announced its plan for the trial.

A growing number of companies — Amazon among them — are also eying the drone delivery sector, though the wide-scale rollout of such services depends largely on whether the providers can get approval from regulators.

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