Last week, Google spin-off Wing began delivering consumer packages to residents in Christianburg, VA. This is an industry first: Wing is now “the first company to operate a commercial air delivery service via drone directly to homes in the United States,” says a company blog post. “Wing’s FAA permissions are the first to allow multiple pilots to oversee multiple unmanned aircraft making commercial deliveries simultaneously to the general public, paving the way for the most advanced drone delivery service in the nation.”
Wing is collaborating with FedEx Express, Walgreens and a local Virginia retailer known as Sugar Magnolia. All of these collaborators claim status as being the first to provide commercial drone delivery to homes. The process, described in the Wing blog post:
Wing became the first drone company in the U.S. to receive the FAA’s Air Carrier Certificate for commercial drone delivery last spring. While Wing began testing delivery to suburban homes in Australia over a year ago, this is the first time that a company has performed a wider scale, complete end-to-end delivery solution to the consumer’s doorstep in the U.S. It’s a significant move as a demonstration of the potential for commercial drone delivery – a “holy grail” that companies like Amazon have pursued since commercial drones became viable.
The Christianburg program is still an FAA-sanctioned trial. Last month, package delivery giant UPS went one further and received an FAA Air Carrier Certificate without limits upon scale and scope. UPS, however, is not currently engaging in residential drone delivery, but is focused on a medical application, delivering blood samples on medical campuses.