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FedEx trials Wing drones for commercial deliveries

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Express transportation company FedEx Express has partnered with air delivery provider Wing Aviation to trial the use of drones to transport select packages directly to homes in Christiansburg, Virginia, United States.

The first drone delivery to a residential home in the US was made last week by Wing Aviation, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, in collaboration with FedEx Express as part of the US Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Programme (IPP).

The delivery of a FedEx Express package marks the launch of the first scheduled, commercial residential drone delivery service and the first scheduled e-commerce delivery via drone delivery trial in the United States.

In April this year, Wing became the first drone delivery company to receive provisional Air Carrier and Operator Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), enabling it to begin limited commercial delivery of goods to homes in Christiansburg.

Wing has conducted more than 80,000 test flights and thousands of on-demand deliveries as part of its commercial trials, including more than 3,000 deliveries to doorsteps, driveways and backyards of customers in Australia. In September it launched a drone delivery service in Crestmead and Marsden, Queensland.

Always looking for new and better ways

For the duration of the trial, Wing drones will transport select FedEx packages to qualifying homes in Christiansburg, demonstrating the benefits of drone delivery for last-mile delivery service. Customers of FedEx who live within designated delivery zones in Christiansburg, Virginia, and who opt-in to the Wing delivery service, will be able to receive eligible packages via drone during the trial programme, provided certain operating conditions are met.

“Innovation has been part of the FedEx DNA since day one, and we are always looking for new and better ways to deliver the world to our customers’ doorsteps,” Don Colleran, President & CEO of FedEx Express says. “For our customers in Christiansburg, this collaboration will test the latest innovation in the last mile of a residential package delivery.

“We hope that this latest addition to our delivery options will enhance the last mile service for urgent same-day deliveries, customers in rural or semi-rural areas, and other exceptional delivery needs.”

Wing’s pilot programme also includes a collaboration with Walgreens, allowing programme participants to order health and wellness products through Wing’s delivery app. Wing is also working local Virginia retailer Sugar Magnolia. 

FedEx is also participating in the US DOT’s Unmanned Aircraft System IPP in conjunction with the Memphis Shelby-County Airport Authority, conducting drone operations on airport property to generate data to help inform future UAS policymaking.

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