Walgreens is set to be the first retailer in the US to test on-demand drone delivery services by partnering with Wing Aviation LLC, a member of the Alphabet family of companies.
Walgreens is set to be the first retailer in the United States to test on-demand drone delivery services by partnering with Wing Aviation LLC, a member of the Alphabet family of companies.1
The drones are expected to deliver health and wellness products, in addition to food, beverages, and convenience items—and within minutes of ordering these items via the Wing app. The service will begin to be offered to eligible residents of Christianburg, Virginia, starting in October.1
According to Wing's website, the company's air delivery service is intended "to strengthen communities by providing food, medicine and other items more quickly, safely, and with less pollution than was previously possible." Wing deliveries are already being utilized in Finland and Australia.2 Through their new partnership with Walgreens, both companies aim to explore together the possibilities of health and wellness product and retail delivery via drone.1
Christiansburg was selected because of its geographic closeness to Virginia Tech University, where Wing has been working to test drone delivery as part of the US Department of Transportation's Integration Pilot Program since 2016. If the program were to be expanded, Walgreens could be in a unique position to capitalize on drone delivery, with approximately 78% of the United States population living within 5 miles of a Walgreens-owned store, according to the company's press release.1
The eligible customers in Christianburg will be able to order more than 100 products and 6 "packs" via the Wing app, including a "baby pack" with children's ibuprofen, water, and more, and a "cough/cold pack" with a variety of products aimed at relieving symptoms. Other prebuilt packs include allergy, first aid, pain, and children's snacks. Prescription deliveries are not currently available via the drone service.1
Before the program launches, Wing and Walgreens will be speaking to Christiansburg residents to provide additional information about how the service could affect them. The company's OpenSky platform utilizes automation and data to ensure safe flying for both commercial and recreational drone users. The companies will also be hosting a demonstration for community members later in September.1