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Walgreens and Wing are testing an on-demand drone delivery service

Walgreens is getting its wings.

The pharmacy chain has teamed up with Alphabet’s drone delivery service Wing to bring food and beverage, over-the-counter medication and other items to consumers.

This ‘store to door’ testing is set to begin next month in Virginia and will offer more than 100 products and pre-built ‘packs’ for purchase in the Wing app.

 

Walgreens has teamed up with Alphabet’s drone delivery service Wing to bring food and beverage, over-the-counter medication and other items to consumers

The partnership between Walgreens and Wing aims to further explore the future of health and wellness products and retail delivery through the air, offering product availability and home delivery minutes after placing orders via the Wing app.

‘Walgreens continues to explore partnerships to transform and modernize our customer experience and we are proud to be the first retailer in the U.S. to offer an on-demand commercial drone delivery option with Wing,’ said Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc., in a press release.

HOW DOES GOOGLE’S WING DRONE WORK? 

Wing, the first commercial drone company approved by the FAA in the U.S. will start delivering in Virginia.

The drone is powered entirely by electric and can fly up to 120 km/h (almost 75 mph).

It emits no greenhouse gas and travels without any human guidance using the company’s AI and machine learning systems.

It can fly vertically and sideways and delivers products to consumers’ lawns by dropping them down safely with a tether. 

‘With a customer-led focus, we continue to create differentiated shopping experiences that provide the products and services consumers need wherever, whenever and however they may want them.

‘This is the kind of omni-channel partnership and offering that can redefine convenience for our customers and communities – delivering items to homes in minutes, not hours or days.’

The delivery service will be rolled out in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is in the vicinity of Wing’s testing zone – it has been testing drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program since 2016.

‘Although currently a pilot in one market, Walgreens is in a unique position to capitalize on the convenience of drone delivery if and when it should expand, with approximately 78 percent of the U.S. population living within five miles of a Walgreens-owned store,’ states the release.

‘The Wing partnership is a strong complement to other successful Walgreens collaborations.’

‘As customers’ change the way they shop and adopt new technologies, strategic partnerships like this one help Walgreens expand its omni-channel offerings to meet the needs of its customers’ lifestyles – whether it be a busy working mom or a consumer with limited transportation options – and deliver greater value, convenience and accessibility to products and services.’

This 'store to door' testing is set to begin next month in Virginia, and will offer more than 100 products and pre-built 'packs' for purchase in the Wing app

This ‘store to door’ testing is set to begin next month in Virginia, and will offer more than 100 products and pre-built ‘packs’ for purchase in the Wing app

Although Walgreens sells almost every item you can imagine, the testing program is limiting what can be delivered through the skies.

Consumers will have the opportunity to choose from over-the-counter medications, but prescriptions will not be part of the program.

Eligible customers can choose from over 100 different products and six ‘packs’ to be delivered using the Wing app.

The packs are organized by the following categories: allergy, baby, cough/cold, first aid, pain, and kids’ snacks. 

Wing received the green light from the FAA to begin drone deliveries back in March. 

The helicopter-like vehicles are completely autonomous and capable of flying up to 120 km/h (75 mph) using an all-electric power source with zero emissions. 

Wing received the green light from the FAA to begin drone deliveries back in March. The helicopter-like vehicles are completely autonomous and capable of flying up to 120 km/h (75 mph) using an all-electric power source with zero emissions

Wing received the green light from the FAA to begin drone deliveries back in March. The helicopter-like vehicles are completely autonomous and capable of flying up to 120 km/h (75 mph) using an all-electric power source with zero emissions 

According to a report from Bloomberg, Wing has approval to carry out deliveries in two towns in the state of Virginia – Blacksburg and Christiansburg – as it hammers out details of the company’s operations. 

It will start by partnering with local businesses to deliver products to those areas – Walgreens being one of them.

Though Wing was approved by the FAA, the company said it will work with local governments to determine where and how its drones are deployed. 

Among the major issues for commercial drone usage are those relating to privacy and noise. 

‘There’s going to be a lot of learning for us as well, since this is a first of its kind and nobody really knows specifically the best applications,’ Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess told the Roanoke Times. 

‘We think it’s actually in partnership with the community that we’ll find those answers together.’   

The delivery service will be rolled out in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is in the vicinity of Wing's testing zone – it has been testing drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Integration Pilot Program since 2016

The delivery service will be rolled out in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is in the vicinity of Wing’s testing zone – it has been testing drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program since 2016 

For Wing, approval of its U.S. operations marks one of several major steps throughout the past year, with the latest being a green light from Australia regulators who allowed public delivers from the company this month. 

Its strides have outpaced that of Google’s main competitor in the commercial drone space, Amazon, whose service, Prime Air, plans to deliver the company’s products straight to consumers’ doorsteps. 

As noted in a Bloomberg report, many other companies have received waivers  from the FAA to begin testing drones on a limited scale, but none have gone through the rigorous FAA process of being approved as an aircraft operator. 

For other hopefuls in the space, Wing will likely represent a template of what works and what doesn’t as the technology expands to more densely populated areas.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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