Alphabet today announced that Walgreens is partnering with Wing to bring drone-based deliveries to a portion of Texas’s Dallas-Forth Worth region. The drugstore giant will be the first to take advantage of a new rapid drone deployment system being unveiled by the Alphabet subsidy.
In the lead up to this week’s announcement, Wing has been testing drone flights at the Fort Worth-based Hillwoods AllianceTexas Flight Test Center. In the coming weeks, it will begin test flights in the city of Frisco and town of Little Elm in the surrounding region, with further commercial expansion expected in the coming months.
Alphabet has been testing systems in Australia for some time now and has operated small-scale deliveries in the Virginia town of Christiansburg since 2019. The company says it has been working with the FAA to begin expanding into more densely populated areas. A representative told TechCrunch:
In April of 2019, Wing became the first drone operator to be certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration, allowing us to deliver commercial goods to recipients miles away, and we got an expanded version of that permission to launch in Virginia in October 2019. Now, we’re working toward permissions for this expansion, and we’ll be conducting test flights and demonstrating our new capabilities in the area in the coming weeks as part of that process. Prior to launching our service in DFW, we will work with authorities at the local, state and federal levels to secure all the appropriate permissions.
In this initial implementation, drones will take off from the Walgreens parking lot. The system, which effectively uses the drone’s containers as hangars, can also be deployed on roofs or next to buildings.
“Until now, this type of service in the United States has been limited to smaller towns, where land usage is less crowded and complex,” said Alphabet in a release. “Wing’s reliable aircraft and advanced flight planning and routing capabilities make it uniquely capable of operating a highly automated drone delivery service in more crowded, complex operating environments.”