Google Subsidiary Gets the Green Light to Launch Drone Delivery Service

Rural Virginia just became 'the birthplace of drone delivery'

Drone delivery
An Alphabet Inc. Google X Project Wing delivery drone flies during a demonstration
Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / April 24, 2019 10:51 am

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You can now have a drone deliver products to your home — if you happen to live in one of two rural communities in Virginia, that is. 

Wing Aviation LLC, an offshoot of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has become the first drone operator to score approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, Bloomberg reported. The government approval grants Wing the same certifications smaller airlines receive from the FAA and the Department of Transportation. An important step in the future of the drone industry, the certification grants Wing the authority deliver products to customers via drone.

“It’s an exciting moment for us to have earned the FAA’s approval to actually run a business with our technology,” Wing Chief Executive Officer James Ryan Burgess said in an interview. The company plans to launch its delivery service within in the next few months, beginning with “routine deliveries of small consumer items,” according to Bloomberg.

For now, Wing’s operation will be limited to two rural communities in Virginia, due to drone regulations that still permit flights over most crowds and urban areas. However, the new FAA approvals gave Wing the ability to apply for permission to expand to other regions.

“Our community is very excited to be the birthplace of drone delivery in the United States,” Craig Meadows, Montgomery County Administrator in southwest Virginia, said in a statement.

Wing plans to continue conducting research with the public as the drone delivery service grows, particularly when it comes to noise and privacy concerns. According to Mark Blanks, director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, public response has been largely positive so far.

“Across the board everybody we’ve spoken to has been pretty excited,” he told Bloomberg.

According to Burgess, this new development in drone technology is mutually beneficial for both the public and the drone industry. “These devices can be value-added in our communities,” he told Bloomberg. “They can be a faster, cleaner, less expensive way to transport things while still adding to the safety of society.”

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