Wing, the drone delivery unit of Google’s parent organization Alphabet, was first launched as an experimental program at the end of 2011. After a decade of development, testing, and trials, the company says it can finally call 2021 the year that drone delivery really took off.
Wing made over 140,000 deliveries to customers in the US, Australia, and Finland in 2021 – a solid increase of more than 600% from 2020.
While in the US, Wing spent the year conducting drone delivery demos in Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the company has simultaneously been prepping with retailers such as Walgreens to fulfill its own store-to-door, on-demand air deliveries. If this delivery model proves successful, Wing plans to expand its commercial drone delivery service to more densely-populated metropolitan areas.
And the company is quick to point out:
Until now, this type of service in the United States has been limited to smaller towns, where land usage is less crowded and complex. 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.
In the meantime, the genesis of Wing’s plans to co-locate with a retailer can be traced back to Australia, where earlier this year, the company started offering drone delivery services from the rooftop of a shopping center.
This model offers Wing two crucial benefits. First, by using existing, typically underutilized rooftop space, the logistics provider can shrink its operational footprint and expand access to aircraft without requiring additional real estate. And second, co-locating with a retailer means Wing can instantly capture customers from an existing market.
But while 2021 may have been great for Wing, the company’s plans for 2022 are even bigger. And that reflects in its decision to enter into a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch the OpenSky app and help the agency process requests for authorizations to fly drones in controlled airspace. It’s worth noting that the drone delivery specialist has been working with the Australian government on a similar initiative since 2019.
Here’s a throwback at what Wing and its birds have been up to in 2021:
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