Alphabet’s Wing drones begin the delivery of select FedEx packages directly to Virginia homes.
On October 18, for the first time in the United States, a drone completed a scheduled commercial residential delivery. The drone delivery was conducted by Wing Aviation, in collaboration with FedEx Express, as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (IPP). The FedEx Express package delivery to a home in Christiansburg, Virginia marks the launch of the first scheduled, commercial residential drone delivery service and the first scheduled e-commerce delivery via drone delivery trial in the United States.
For the duration of the trial, Wing drones will transport select FedEx packages to qualifying homes in Christiansburg, demonstrating the benefits of drone delivery for last-mile delivery service. Wing received an expanded air carrier certificate from the FAA earlier this year so it could demonstrate safe commercial operation in the larger Blacksburg-Roanoke area. Meanwhile, the FAA Approved UPS as Drone Airline for Commercial Deliveries, making UPS the first official drone airline with a full Part-135 FAA certification. Learn more about the launch of the company’s service and its collaboration with drone technology company, Matternet, here.
“Innovation has been part of the FedEx DNA since day one, and we are always looking for new and better ways to deliver the world to our customers’ doorsteps,” said Don Colleran, President & CEO of FedEx Express. “For our customers in Christiansburg, this collaboration will test the latest innovation in the last mile of a residential package delivery. We hope that this latest addition to our delivery options will enhance the last mile service for urgent same-day deliveries, customers in rural or semi-rural areas, and other exceptional delivery needs.”
Customers of FedEx who live within designated delivery zones in Christiansburg, Virginia, and who opt-in to the Wing delivery service, will be able to receive eligible packages via drone during the trial program, provided certain operating conditions are met. Wing’s pilot program also includes a collaboration with Walgreens, allowing program participants to order health and wellness products through Wing’s delivery app.
To learn more about Wing’s U.S. commercial drone delivery pilot program, visit wing.com/virginia.
Why it’s important: Although Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is limited by the region in which it can commercially operate its Wing drones, Virginia is showing to be a successful proving grounds. With the launch of home deliveries, Wing has also managed to beat out Amazon Prime Air in the pursuit of offering last-mile package deliveries via drone. However, there is still ample market share for manufacturers and operators to begin offering similar services, as intended by the FedEx-Wing and UPS-Matternet collaborations.
Source // FedEx Newsroom; Wing Aviation