Like in Australia, Wing is testing the “benefits of drone delivery,” and calling this the “most advanced drone delivery trial in the United States to date.” The FAA earlier this year certified the former X moonshot project as the first “air carrier” stateside, thus allowing for the delivery of commercial goods by drone.
This pilot is a part of the US Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program. It’s also “exploring ways to enhance efficiency of last-mile delivery service.”
Wing is partnering with Walgreens on transporting medication, and package delivery with FedEx. They are also working with local business Sugar Magnolia on delivering small items.
Walgreens and Wing will make over-the-counter medicines and other health and wellness items available for delivery on-demand, through the air, and within minutes of ordering. Walgreens will be the first retail pharmacy to offer drone delivery in the United States. The two companies will use the trial in Southwest Virginia to explore how to improve the accessibility of healthcare.
Eligible FedEx Express customers who live within designated delivery zones in Christiansburg, and who opt in to the Wing delivery service, will be able to receive some packages via delivery drone. Wing has designed a customized box that its delivery drones will use to transport eligible FedEx deliveries directly to the homes of intended recipients.
A drone with 12 propellers will fly to a recipient’s house minutes after an order is placed and then hover as the package, attached to a wire, descends. Wing designed a custom-branded container for FedEx, and reused their existing packaging with Walgreens.
Virginia residents can sign up now for the “Early Flyer” trial that will begin later this year.