Drone delivery has officially started in the United States.
Drone delivery service Wing began delivering over-the-counter medication, as well as snacks and gifts, to people who live and work in the town of Christiansburg, Virginia, this week.
The company recently acquired an expanded Air Carrier Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allows it to operate. That certificate allows “multiple pilots to oversee multiple unmanned aircraft making commercial deliveries simultaneously to the general public.”
Google-owned Wing is working with Walgreens, FedEx Express, and Virginia retailer Sugar Magnolia on the project, the company said via a Medium post announcing the inaugural delivery.
FedEx is expected to complete its first scheduled e-commerce drone delivery using Wing’s drones, making it the first delivery company to use a drone for that “last mile” delivery.
Customers in the area can opt-in to using the drone service for deliveries. When the drones make one of those deliveries, packages will be gently lowered to a small, designated part of that customer’s yard or driveway. After the delivery is complete, the drone will return to its “nest” in North Christiansburg.
“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 last month when it originally announced its plans for the trial. “We’re excited about the potential to expand but we don’t have specific plans to announce.”
While Wing is the first company to be certified by the FAA, Amazon currently is working on its own delivery drone and UPS has announced a drone delivery program in partnership with drone-maker Matternet in July.
Amazon’s drone should be making its first public appearance relatively soon. The company announced in June that it planned to start using drones to deliver packages to customers “in the coming months.”
Its drone has six rotors and can take off like a helicopter but fly like a plane. The first Prime Air delivery drone was unveiled in 2013. Amazon’s services had already made a few deliveries, the first of which happened in 2013 in Cambridge, England.
- From pizza to transplant organs: What drones will be delivering in the 2020s
- FAA proposes nationwide real-time tracking system for all drones
- Toyota just invested $394M in a secretive startup that makes flying taxis
- Flying meds: UPS uses drones for deliveries to CVS customers for first time
- Boeing to suspend production of troubled 737 Max aircraft next month