Look in the Sky: It’s a Drone-Delivery from Walgreens
Wing Takes Flight in Texas
Alphabet’s (GOOGL) drone-delivery service Wing launched yesterday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, marking the largest US rollout in its history to date. It’s also the first time one of Wing’s customers is operating the service directly, as Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) will stage the deliveries from a parking lot in the town of Little Elm, Texas.
Customers are now able to log onto Wing’s app and request drone delivery of everyday items such as household essentials and over-the-counter medicine. Aside from the Walgreens set up, Blue Bell ice cream, first-aid kits, and pet prescriptions will all be available via Wing delivery, organized at a different staging area. The drones travel around 65 miles-per-hour and can carry just over three pounds.
How It Works
Each one of Wing’s drones are outfitted with an extendable line and attachable hook, which is how the packages get from the Walgreens lot in Little Elm to nearby customers. Walgreens employees attach products to the drone’s extended line, which is then reeled back in, at which time the drone flies off.
The drone automatically plans out the trip and flies itself, but human beings oversee the entire process, with trained pilots located in both California and Texas. Once the drone arrives at its destination, the package automatically unhooks, and the process repeats itself once the machine has had time to recharge.
The Future of Drone Deliveries
For the time being, there are no drone-delivery companies that can operate nationwide without a human pilot controlling or monitoring the aircraft. Wing is also working with federal regulators to get its aircraft design and components certified.
The FAA says regulations are being developed that will allow the drones to operate in a fully-autonomous way. Wing currently operates in Virginia, Finland, and Australia. Most of its 200,000 commercial drone deliveries have been completed in Australia. Wing hopes the steps taken in Texas will help it start soaring across the globe.
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