Alphabet Inc’s aviation unit Wing said on Thursday it has partnered with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc and FedEx Corp for deliveries directly to homes in Virginia using drones, beginning next month.
Walgreens and Wing Aviation LLC will begin offering drone delivery service to eligible residents of Christiansburg, Virginia beginning next month. The companies will utilize the pilot program to further explore the future of health and wellness product and retail delivery through the air, offering product availability and home delivery minutes after placing orders via the Wing app.
Christiansburg was selected as the test market as Wing has been working closely with nearby Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to test drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program since 2016.
Eligible customers in the Christiansburg area will have access to more than 100 products and six convenient “packs” via the Wing app that include many of Walgreens most sought-after products in store. Customers can either choose the individual products they need or, for simplicity’s sake, choose one of the pre-built packs in the following categories: allergy, baby, cough/cold, first aid, pain, and kids’ snacks. Prescription deliveries are not available via this service.
Over the coming weeks, Wing and Walgreens will be reaching out to Christiansburg residents to provide additional information about the new offering.
Earlier in April, Wing got the approval to start deliveries using drones in the state, making it the first company to get U.S. air carrier certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In January, the FAA proposed rules that would allow drones to operate over populated areas and to end a requirement for permits for night use.
Wing has already begun commercial air deliveries in Canberra, Australia and Helsinki, Finland.
Amazon.com Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. are also developing their delivery services, and a host of smaller companies, including Flirtey Inc., are also experimenting in the field.
The partnership with Wing gives FedEx leverage to compete against UPS, which is using the small flying devices for revenue-generating health-care deliveries, such as blood samples, within a hospital campus in North Carolina.
UPS is also seeking FAA authorization to operate like a small airline and expects to get that designation soon.