Walgreens will be the first retailer in the U.S. to test an on-demand drone delivery service with Wing in Christiansburg, Virginia next month.
Alphabet’s drone unit Wing has officially launched the country’s first commercial drone delivery flight.
While on a limited scale, for now, in Christiansburg, Virginia, Friday’s delivery represents a milestone for the company. Wing has spent years working to perfect a drone that can deliver items such as food, coffee and medicine to homes within minutes. It’s also developing a software platform that can be used by multiple aircraft deliveries and third parties — for business and pleasure.
Wing spun out of Alphabet’s experimental X division last year to sit in Alphabet’s “Other Bets.” It became the first drone firm to receive Federal Aviation Administration approval earlier this year, which gave it the ability to deliver small packages in a couple Virginia cities. CNBC recently found that the company was aggressively trying to expand its team ahead of the commercial launch.
Competition is lurking. Amazon received FAA approval for Prime delivery less than two months after Alphabet, and unveiled a new drone that executives said could be used “within months.” Uber, UPS and others are also hoping to secure federal approval.
Earlier this month, Wing announced it would be partnering with FedEx Express and Walgreens as well as Virginia retailer Sugar Magnolia for local air delivery. Walgreens is the first U.S. retailer to air deliver products directly to consumers by drone, and FedEx is the first logistics company to accomplish the feat.