Bloomberg
alphabet-drone.jpg Photo: Wing

Toothpaste Will Fly as Alphabet’s Drones Test Delivery in Texas

Wing LLC said it hopes to begin testing delivery flights within a week and to receive permission to expand service in the area in coming months.

(Bloomberg)—Alphabet Inc.’s drone-delivery operation is expanding to a Walgreens in suburban Dallas where it will make airborne deliveries of toothpaste and other goods to residents of nearby towns.

Wing LLC, which had earlier obtained certification from U.S. regulators as a small airline, said it hopes to begin test flights within a week and to receive permission to expand service in the area in coming months. It will be seeking community reaction as it waits for approvals, it said in a press release.

“With a self-contained drone delivery service that can fit in a parking lot, on a rooftop, or next to a storefront, we’re hoping to expand the benefits of drone delivery to more people, in more urban and suburban settings, around the world,” said Jonathan Bass, the company’s head of marketing and communications.

Wing will deliver items from the Walgreens to the Texas communities of Frisco and Little Elm. Drones will be buzzing over the largest metropolitan area to see such a test to date.

Wing, Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Air, United Parcel Service Inc. and numerous other companies are attempting to create a new commercial model in which goods can seamlessly be dropped at customers’ homes minutes after an order.

Wing’s expansion into the rapidly growing suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the most ambitious attempts to date, but many significant hurdles remain before such deliveries become routine.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved some test operations -- including Wing’s delivery service in rural Christiansburg, Virginia -- but the agency is still developing multiple regulations and safety standards needed to oversee such flights.

One of the goals in the Texas test is make the sales process more seamless and consistent with how retail stores operate normally. Unlike previous tests in which Wing workers did the bulk of the work, Walgreens employees will load the packages to be carried by drones. The flight operation will be run from a small shipping container at the drug store.

Similarly, Wing earlier this month announced it had set up a drone-delivery operation at a mall in Australia near Brisbane.

The company also plans to begin deliveries from a second site in Frisco. It has been conducting tests in Texas already at a technology incubation site known as the Mobility Innovation Zone.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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