Alphabet’s Wing Begins Drone Deliveries In Texas

Alphabet’s drone division Wing has announced a partnership with a US retailer and the start of drone deliveries in a major metropolitan area.

Wing announced a “new model for drone delivery that will allow us to expand into densely-populated metropolitan areas in the United States.”

To this end it has partnered with US pharmacy chain Walgreens, which will used Wing’s drones to fulfill deliveries at a store in Texas.

US drone deliveries

Until recently Wing has been delivering items mostly in parts of Australia, and in smaller US towns, where land usage is less crowded and complex.

They deliver items such as takeaway food, coffee and medicines to various homes.

But now Wing drones will service a major metropolitan area, when it uses the parking lot at a Dallas-Fort Worth area Walgreens store, to serve parts of the city of Frisco and town of Little Elm, flying directly to customers homes.

“Wing will stage delivery drones at retail locations; ready to fly directly to customers,” said the firm. “The aircraft will arrive in small containers that serve as tiny hangars, allowing each store to quickly and easily deploy a small, dedicated fleet from its parking lot, on its roof, or in small spaces adjacent to the building.”

“When this model launches, Walgreens will be the first US retailer to use this new approach,” it said. “Walgreens team members will process orders and load packages onto the delivery drones, and Wing will oversee operation of the delivery service.”

In addition to the Walgreens store, Wing has teamed up with Hillwood to prepare a separate drone delivery facility within Frisco Station, an urban, mixed-used development located in Frisco.

“In preparation for this launch, we’ve been conducting test flights since June at Hillwood’s AllianceTexas Flight Test Center, a drone testing facility in Fort Worth,” said Wing.

“We’ll begin a small number of practice flights next week in Frisco and Little Elm, and hope to set up delivery demonstrations to get feedback from the community in the coming weeks,” it added. “In the coming months, we expect to launch a commercial service there that would be the first of its kind in a major US Metro.”

Angry birds

There is no word on what Wing will do to resolve an unexpected problem first encountered in Australia.

Last month ‘territorial’ ravens began attacking the delivery drones of Wing in Australia’s capital city of Canberra.

Wing paused flights in the northern suburb of Harrison while bird experts assess the behaviour of local ravens to ensure their welfare is safeguarded.

Harrison resident Ben Roberts, who has been taking advantage of Wing deliveries during the lockdown, captured a stunning video of the raven attacking a Wing drone that was delivering his coffee order.

But that was not the first time that birds have attacked drones.

In February 2016 for example Dutch police trained eagles to take down drones that pose a threat to public safety.

The Dutch police worked with a company called ‘Guard from Above’ to train the birds, which were able to attack the drones without hurting themselves due to their strong claws and talons.

The police even purchased four sea eagle chicks to train them.

However in late 2017 Dutch police stopped using eagles, because training them was more expensive and complicated than they had anticipated.

And it seems the eagles wouldn’t always do what they were trained to do.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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