FedEx launches first drone delivery trial

Alphabet’s Wing starts drone deliveries to US homes

Alphabet’s Wing starts drone deliveries to US homes

It's a first for FedEx that's giving new meaning to "air mail".

Earlier this month, UPS received clearance from the FAA to begin its drone program, and the logistics company said it "immediately" began delivering medical supplies to WakeMed's hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Wing's service, which went live in Christiansburg, Virginia, began with Walgreens, FedEx Express, and a local retailer called Sugar Magnolia as its partners. Michael and Kelly Collver ordered tissues, water, Tylenol and cough drops from Walgreens. Wing claims it is the first commercial drone delivery service in the US. The 81-year-old said she never thought she'd see something like it. The drones are capable of flying a 12-mile (19-kilometer) round trip, and Wing expects to widen its radius eventually, though it did not give a timeline for expansion. The drones made their historic first deliveries in three suburban yards Friday, witnessed by officials from the White House, the Federal Aviation Administration, Wing and Virginia Tech, including Virginia Tech President Tim Sands.

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Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess noted the speed with which drones can make deliveries - sometimes within minutes of ordering - and the environmental benefit of having fewer delivery trucks on roads.

"We're looking at trends in cities including congestion and environmental sustainability", he said. The location has been selected as the test market because Wing has been working with Virginia Tech in nearby Blacksburg, Va.to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's integration pilot program since 2016. But another popular drone delivery item is hot coffee, which the company is delivering in partnership with a local coffeehouse. Wing promises that its deliveries will take place within minutes of an order being place as long the customer lives in Christiansburg's "designated delivery zones". They, and other members of the community, will have the chance to help shape the future of drone delivery in the U.S. Wing's drones delivered over a thousand meals to Virginia Tech students and staff that fall.

"I had a retinal hemorrhage when I was 23, and my husband doesn't like me driving", Susie Sensmeier, a drone delivery tester, said.

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