In front of a residential house in Christiansburg, a 10-pound drone hovers above a crowd to deliver one of the first commercial drone deliveries. On Friday, Oct. 18, Wing Aviation drone delivery service held its grand opening in Christiansburg.
“The Wing folks did a great job presenting it to the town administration,” said Christiansburg Mayor Michael Barber. “ We have a leisure group (of) Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Christiansburg (and) Montgomery County schools. They introduced it to us one morning, and all of the responds were really good.”
As a part of Wing Aviation’s grand opening, Wing partnered with Fedex, Walgreens and local creamery Sugar Magnolia to deliver the first packages to three residents in Christiansburg.
One of the three deliveries came from Sugar Magnolia, whose package consisted of chocolate balls and popcorn. The Walgreens delivery contained cough medicine, and the delivery from FedEx contained a purple vest from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“It is incredible to know that you can get whatever you needed to the front of your lawn,” said Todd Joyce, a recipient of a Sugar Magnolia package from Wing.
Walgreens has over 100 goods available for delivery, and Sugar Magnolia has a variety of treats available. If a package is under three pounds, then it is available for drone delivery through FedEx. This is available in the midst of a trial run happening in small parameter within Christiansburg.
Residents of Christiansburg will be able to order items through an app and have them delivered to their home between 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Deliveries will take around 10 minutes to come from Wing’s base, which is stationed by El Gran Rodeo and O’Charley’s Restaurant and Bar.
Christiansburg is not the first place where Wing has run a trial run. Wing has conducted trial runs in Australia and Finland. Now, Wing regularly delivers and continues to expand in these countries. Residents of Christansburg can look to these overseas cities as a layout of what their drone future might look like for them.
Virginia Tech’s Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, which has worked to improve and advance drone technology for the past five years, has acted as one of Wing’s major partners. The university has been a part of Wing’s efforts to make a medicine, Chipotle burrito and popsicle delivery over a populated area throughout the years to work out any kinks and learn how the drones work.
“The technology is simple; it's how do you create a safe environment,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “In terms of the micro-mobility and capabilities of scooters, you see them introduced in cities and they don't go well. This is a similar thing where were we are going to be the forefront of what's going to be drone-safe commercial airspace.”