Drones take over the ‘last mile’. First commercial deliveries ended with success.
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Wing, a subsidiary of Google Alphabet, has launched a new service in the United States – delivery using drones. The first took place in Christianburg, Virginia.
After successful testing and implementation of drones in Helsinki and the Australian capital Canberra, the time has come for the United States. Wing is now able to use unmanned light aircraft for ‘last mile’ deliveries thanks to an extended airline certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The first shipment of medicines, bottled water and handkerchiefs were delivered to customers in Christiansburg, a small town in Virginia that was chosen as Wing’s test location. Thanks to the cooperation between the company and its partners – FedEx, Walgreens pharmacy chain and Sugar Magnolia confectionery chain, the residents of the city of 22,000 inhabitants will be able to order products delivered so far by ‘classic’ couriers.
Alphabet’s Wing starts drone deliveries to US homes
— Engadget (@engadget) October 18, 2019
With this pilot project, Walgreens will be the first US retailer to deliver over-the-counter and convenience products by drone on demand,” reads the official announcement by Alphabet Wing.
What does the delivery look like?
According to the company’s declarations, orders reach customers in just a few minutes. The parcels are attached to yellow and white drones at a local operating centre called Nest. The drones carry goods weighing up to 1.3 kg and deliver them within a radius of up to 10 km. After arriving at the place indicated by the customer, the drones do not land but lower the package by cable to the courtyard or driveway, and then fly away to the base station.
UPS is not lagging behind
Not only Wing is betting on drones. This week, the American operator UPS announced that it will use drones to deliver prescription drugs. Such a service will be offered in the coming weeks in one or two cities in the United States, Reuters news agency informs.
Up to now, UPS operated drone healthcare deliveries in a specific use-case. Based on a contractual delivery agreement, UPS delivered medical samples via unmanned drones on the area of WakeMed’s flagship hospital and the campus in Raleigh, N.C. Flight Forward, UPS’s drone-delivery subsidiary, operates approximately 10 flights per day at the facility, said Bala Ganesh, Vice President of Advanced Technology at UPS, quoted by Reuters.
And this is just the beginning. As Scott Price, UPS Strategy and Transformation Director, said, “Flight Forward wants to work with new customers from other industries to provide additional solutions for a wide range of last-mile deliveries and urgent shipments”.
We’re taking drones beyond the #healthcare industry. In partnership with @CVSHealth, we will explore the use of #drones for delivering prescriptions and retail products to the homes of CVS residential customers. Click here to learn more. #UPSdrones
— UPS (@UPS) October 22, 2019