Routine drone deliveries of medication, snacks and other small items from a drugstore began in a small Virginia town on Friday.
Alphabet Inc. offshoot Wing, which just received an expanded certification to act as a small air carrier, is starting the nation’s inaugural delivery service via a small civilian aircraft with partners Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and FedEx Corp.
“This is really a first for Wing,” said Jay Merkle, the executive director of the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone-oversight program. “It’s amazing that in a year and a half we’ve gone from uncharted territory to: we’ve got a certified air carrier.”
Wing’s announcement in Christianburg, Virginia, a small city in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains about 220 miles southwest of Washington, puts it at the forefront of the race to make drone deliveries routine and widespread.
United Parcel Service Inc. is conducting similar tests at hospital, university and corporate campuses to ferry medical supplies with a drone, and several other companies, including Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Air, also are developing aerial-delivery platforms.