Drone delivery is certainly an idea that has sparked the imagination, and the concept may be a lot closer to commercial reality than you might think. A subsidiary of Google, Wing, has become the first company in the U.S. to deliver packages by drone.
Wing already operates in Helsinki, Finland and two cities in Australia, and announced recently that the first drone deliveries in the nation had been completed on Friday in Christiansburg, a small town in Virginia. This is part of the process to provide the “most advanced drone delivery service in the nation”.
According to this report, the drones don’t actually complete the entire delivery process on their own. Instead, the majority of the journey is done via a FedEx truck, and the last-mile delivery is then completed by the drone. After being loaded with goods at a “Nest”, the drones can complete deliveries within a 10km radius.
They carry up to 1.3kg, and when they arrive at delivery locations, they don’t land. Instead, the packages are lowered down with a cable, which makes sense if you think about the potential hazards of landing a drone at every delivery stop (if you’ve flown a drone before, you’ll know that landing a drone cleanly is one of the more challenging aspects of it).
It appears that the drones are piloted by Wing pilots, with the company being the first to obtain the licence from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This puts Google ahead of its competitors who also have serious plans to offer drone delivery in the future—namely, Amazon, UPS, and Uber.