According to a announcement of the Alphabet subsidiary Wing Aviation, commercial parcels will be sent immediately by drone in the city of Christiansburg in the US state of Virginia. The company’s previous customers include the local sweets retailer Sugar Magnolia, the drugstore chain Walgreens and the logistics company Fedex. Wing Aviation has also announced that it is looking for additional partners.
The drones, which can reach speeds of up to 110 km/h, are controlled by human pilots located in the so-called “Wing’s Nest” in the north of Christiansburg. The maximum payload weight of the drones is 1.5 kilograms. The drones themselves have a wingspan of one meter and weigh about five kilograms without load.
The delivery radius is currently still very limited at only ten kilometres. Customers can place orders from both retail partners directly by app. This ensures that the delivery does not exceed the capacity of the drone. For Fedex shipments, the drones do not take over the complete delivery, but only the shipment from the last transport centre to the end customer. Until now, this has only been done at the explicit request of the recipient.
According to Wing Aviation, orders from retail partners are delivered within a few minutes. The drone’s flight route can be tracked via the app. Once they reach the end customer, the drones abse the order at a predetermined location. It is therefore not necessary for the customer to be on site.
In addition to Wing Aviation, the shipping giant Amazon is also working on delivery by drone. Thanks to an earlier operating permit from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Alphabet subsidiary was able to gain a small lead. In the meantime, Amazon also has the approval of the authority and, according to its own statements, will also send orders by drone in the next few months. In addition, UPS also has a corresponding permit, but so far has no drones in use.