It’s been a while since Google’s sister company Wing announced it was bringing a new, retail-based drone delivery system to Texas’s Dallas-Fort Worth area. Let’s take a look at how the company is preparing for the commercial launch of its drone delivery operations…
We first reported about Wing prepping for store-prepared orders in what would possibly become its biggest urban market yet in October 2021. Over the past four months, the Alphabet subsidiary has been working with the residents of Frisco and Little Elm to get feedback about its plans, answer questions, and tweak its offerings.
Wing says undertaking such an exercise before the commercial launch has been necessary to make sure it offers a service that brings real value to the communities – essentially setting the stage for a long-term partnership with the Dallas metropolitan area.
To place an order, customers are expected to use the marketplace within the Wing app to select items, then choose a delivery zone option for their home – could be a yard, driveway, or both – and place the order.
These orders will then be fulfilled by Walgreens employees, not Wing, under a new partnership model. In this model, instead of one main Wing nest for delivery aircraft and operations, the company plans to engage several smaller nestlets co-located at local businesses, starting with Walgreens. These nestlets would take as little space as a few parking spaces, and allow for partners to directly fulfill orders placed with their store.
In addition to setting up the nestlet model and the technical aspects of the operations, Wing explains it is also worked closely with regulators, aviation stakeholders, city officials, and, most importantly, its new neighbors. As Steven Yates, US operations manager, says:
We want to make sure [our customers] understand that it’s safe, that it’s reliable, that it’s consistent – and that they’re going to enjoy a service they’ve never seen in their lives.
Wing sums up by saying that the start of commercial service in Dallas will serve as an inflection point for the company’s drone delivery technology.
Leading up to this point, we’ve built multiple aircraft, honed our software, flown tens of thousands of test flights, and completed over 130,000 commercial drone deliveries globally. This work has validated the reliability and benefits of drone delivery services, and shown it is ready for this next step into dense US metropolitan environments.