A Google affiliate started using drones Friday to deliver customers' Walgreens and FedEx purchases in a test run in a Virginia city. The news follows the launch of a drone delivery trial in Wake County, North Carolina.
Wing, owned by Google's parent Alphabet, previously received federal approval for providing commercial supplies with the drone. It was the first drone company to receive approval in the United States, beating Amazon's Prime Air, which unveiled its drone plans in 2013.
Earlier this month, UPS also received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly delivery drones.  A groundbreaking use of drones to fly blood tests over a North Carolina hospital campus that was launched last March to expand its roles in business and health care.
The short trips between WakeMed buildings in Raleigh mark the first time the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed regular commercial flights of drones to carry products, according to UPS and drone company Matternet, which partnered with the hospital about the program.
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"This is a turning point, and it is a historic moment because this is the first FAA-sanctioned use of a (drone) for routine revenue-generating flights," said Bala Ganesh, Vice President in UPS's advanced technology group, said in an interview before the announcement.
Wing collaborated with Walgreens, FedEx and the local gift shop Sugar Magnolia to perform the tests in Christiansburg, Virginia. Walgreens customers in the city will be able to order from a list of more than 100 items and have them delivered to the door by drones.
The first Walgreens supplier customers ordered cough and cold medicine. A Wing drone also delivered a FedEx package from Dick's Sporting Goods to another family in town.
Susie Sensmeier received a purple winter vest she ordered from Dick's Sporting Goods delivered by a drone to her garden. The 81-year-old said she never thought she would see something similar.
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"I didn't think I would live that long or that it wouldn't come during my life, I'm excited," she said.
The drones will start with a flying radius of 6.5 kilometers from Wing's distribution facility in Christiansburg. The drones can fly a 19-kilometer round trip, and Wing expects to expand the radius eventually, though it did not provide a timeline for expansion.
Wing has already launched tests in Canberra and Logan City, Australia and Helsinki. But Friday's flights mark the first live commercial deliveries in the United States since receiving the airline certification from the FAA.
Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess noted the speed drones can deliver – sometimes within minutes of ordering – and the environmental benefit of having fewer delivery vehicles on the roads.
"We look at urban trends, including congestion and environmental sustainability," he said. "We see drone deliveries as a key part of these solutions."
In Wing's pilot in Australia, Burgess said many of the supplies are for food and cold medicine – things people may need when they do not want to leave the house. But another popular delivery of the drone is hot coffee, which the company supplies in collaboration with a local coffee house. The coffee stays warm because the delivery often takes less than four minutes, he said.
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Concerns about privacy and security have been a concern across the United States as drone use increases. But Burgess emphasizes that Wing's delivery drones do not work with the same intent as those flown for hobbies.
The goal of Wing & # 39; s drones is not to take pictures and video, he said, but rather to deliver supplies. There are cameras on the Wing's drones used for navigation, but Burgess said the images were processed aboard the aircraft and did not flow back to the Wing's main servers.
Wing has suggested that it plans to expand the service to other cities, but has not revealed details.