Alphabet Inc.’s drone delivery division Wing Aviation LLC announced today that it will be launching its service in Texas later this week to deliver goods to “tens of thousands” of homes.
The company has set up operations in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area to provide service within the City of Frisco and the Town of Little Elm.
Alphabet’s primary partner in this endeavor is Walgreens, which will be staging the company’s drones in order to fly health and wellness products to customers. In addition to the healthcare store, the company will also be delivering ice cream from Blue Bell Creameries just in time for summertime – suggesting that it will still be cold when it arrives – pet medications from Easyvet and first aid kits from Texas Health.
“This is an important milestone for Wing and drone delivery in the U.S. It simply would not have been possible without the support of the public officials and the citizens of Frisco and Little Elm, and our merchant partners,” said Adam Woodworth, chief executive of Wing.
Wing operates by delivering shipping containers that hold the drone and a series of landing pads that can be set up on rooftops, in parking lots or next to retail buildings. Customers interact with the delivery system by sending in orders via an app. Employees then pack the order into a bag, take it outside and attach it to the drone for delivery.
The drones themselves are custom-built fixed-wing aircraft with multiple rotors that can both fly and hover. They are capable of flying at 65 miles an hour to and from their destination and use a tether to drop off packages automatically so they do not need to land.
Packages can be no heavier than 3.3 pounds and, once in the air, the drones have a round trip range of about six miles. They are fully autonomous but will be monitored by pilots who can take over in case something goes wrong.
The company initially launched services in Australia and Finland. Wing then moved on to launch its first U.S. commercial pilot program in Virginia. According to Alphabet, the company’s biggest successful drone program has been in Australia, which has surpassed more than 100,000 drone deliveries in 2021.
“I do want to set clear expectations: not everyone who lives within range of our drones will be able to order on Day 1,” Woodworth said. “We’re going to invite customers in groups to make sure everyone has a good first experience with drone delivery.”