Google-owned drone delivery company Wing will launch a pilot version of its service in Virginia next month, delivering packages for FedEx Express and Walgreens.
Wing published a post on Medium on Thursday announcing the program in Christiansburg, Virginia, starting in October. The company will deliver health care products and other packages and will be one of the first drone delivery programs in the U.S. Along with the big national companies, local retailer Sugar Magnolia will also offer drone delivery via Wing.
Amid the race for drone delivery, Wing became the first operator to become certified as an air carrier by the FAA in April.
“The trial will demonstrate the benefits of drone delivery by improving access to health care products, creating new avenues of growth for local businesses, and exploring ways to enhance efficiency of last-mile delivery service,” Wing wrote in the Medium post.
The over 22,000 residents that live in the Christiansburg, Virginia area can sign up to be a part of the Wing trial program by visiting wing.com/Virginia. That said, we don’t know what drone delivery will cost — or when Wing plans to expand to other cities.
“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. “We’re excited about the potential to expand but we don’t have specific plans to announce.”
In partnership with Walgreens, Wing will deliver over-the-counter medicine and other health and wellness products. Consumers will be able to receive the items by drone within minutes of ordering them.
Wing will work with FedEx Express to deliver certain packages in designated delivery zones for those who opt in to the drone delivery program. The packages will come in a customized box designed for Wing’s drones.
Other prominent mail carriers have tested out drone delivery as well. In July, UPS announced its UPS Flight Forward program, which will be run in partnership with drone-maker Matternet and focus on delivering medical samples to hospitals and health care facilities.
Amazon has also made it known that it would like to use drones to deliver products bought on the site: in June, Amazon released a video of its Prime Air delivery drone.
Launching a successful drone delivery service may have turned out to be more difficult than many of these companies originally imagined, but with ongoing advances in technology that pave the way for safer designs, and the FAA finally granting certifications, regular drone delivery is surely edging closer.
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