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Watch Google’s Wing drones make deliveries to folks in Virginia

Celebrating one year of drone delivery in Christiansburg

The drone delivery service operated by Google-owned Wing has been dropping off ordered items to residents of Christiansburg in Virginia for the past 12 months.

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of one of the few residential drone delivery services currently operating in the U.S., Wing has posted a video featuring some of the folks that have made use of the service. It also includes lots of footage showing the flying machine in action as it lowers items into people’s yards using a tether.

Wing received regulatory approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its trial drone delivery service in 2019 and wasted little in time in launching its copters into the sky. Crucially, the permission allowed Wing to fly its machines out of the line of sight of the operator, as well as over civilians, giving it greater freedom over where it could deploy the drones.

The company teamed up with various local businesses to deliver items such as medicines, library books, hot meals, and other essentials to folks living in the town, which has a population of just over 20,000.

Many of the residents in the video talk about how they saw the service as a kind of novelty when it first launched, but then, when the pandemic struck, considered it a more important means of assistance.

“Every now and again you’ll be out somewhere and you’ll see the drone fly by,” one resident said, adding, “I don’t think it’s as intimidating as people think it’s going to be. It’s very much been incorporated into the town versus taking over the town.”

Coming from Wing itself, the video is celebratory and therefore includes no complaints from residents who might not be so keen on the service. The noise of the drones, for example, has upset folks in other Wing trials, though the team is working constantly to reduce the level of noise created by the machines. Varying the flight paths also helps to ensure noise pollution is kept to a minimum.

In fact, the town’s mayor, Mike Barber, insists (in the video) that he’s had “nothing but positive comments” about the drone delivery service.

Wing said it’s recently received permission to extend its service area — we’ve reached out to the company for more details and will update this article when we hear back.

A slew of other companies, Amazon among them, are testing similar kinds of drone delivery services while at the same time seeking permission from the FAA to launch operations with fewer and fewer restrictions.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
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