Leading global drone delivery company Wing is undertaking more innovation of its operational model by introducing store-prepared orders in new service to the Dallas-Fort Worth area – its biggest urban market to date.
Owned by Google holding company Alphabet, Wing is launching its new, retail-based drone delivery method as ideally adapted to serving the dense population cities it hopes to expand to in the US and around the world. The first version of that will operate in the Frisco and Little Elm areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, using a container-housed command center located at Walgreens store Wing is partnering with. Serving as an operational mini-hangar, the unit can be brought to virtually any business wanting to fly goods to waiting customers, and house the Wing drones, pilots, and navigation equipment to provide that transportation.
The new model will involve designated Walgreen employees processing client orders and load those packages onto the delivery drones. Once the payload box holding goods is secured, Wing pilots take over, flying the drones to client addresses for delivery. The system is designed to allow expanded operation and UAV take off and landing from adjacent parking lots, surrounding open spaces, or even from rooftops.
The new twist in Wing’s model isn’t the first. Initially the service involved participating businesses bringing orders to multiple fleet locations, where drones stood ready to make deliveries. In September, the company switched that concept around by positioning a team of pilots and UAVs at a shopping center in the Australian city of Logan – bringing drone supply to a concentrated retail demand spot, as it were.
This new variation takes yet another tack by positioning a dedicated drone delivery unit at the doorstep of a single retailer likely to receive a relatively high volume of orders. It also marks Wing’s ambition to expand its geographical reach from the modestly sized cities in the US, Australia, and Finland it serves to densely populated urban centers.
The company says that up to this point, the single retailer-based drone delivery operation that companies like Walmart and Kreuger have used has been restricted to smaller towns, where land occupation and complexities linked to overflight of people are lower. Wing says the experience it has gained in extant operations have produced the kind of reliable aircraft, advanced flight planning, and routing capabilities that now permit it to operate highly automated drone delivery services in more crowded, complex operating environments.
Wing – which has been operating test flights to prepare the launch since June – plans to conduct limited mock runs starting next week in Frisco and Little Elm. It then hopes to set up drone delivery demonstrations and get feedback from local communities. Full launch a commercial service is expected to begin in the coming months – the first of its kind in a major US metro area.
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