Dallas; here Wing come…

The city of Dallas in North Texas is set to become the first metropolis in the USA to have delivery drones flying in its airspace.

This ground-breaking development is set to take place in Frisco and Little Elm in Dallas-Fort Worth, where drone delivery company Wing has partnered with retailer Walgreens to make the unmanned aerial delivery option available to local customers.

“What’s even cooler than drones flying you things in a matter of minutes,” Wing asked in its recent statement. “This is the first time ever that drone delivery will be available in a major US metropolitan area. The residents of Frisco and Little Elm will be among the first people in the US, after Christiansburg, VA, to experience our service.”

Preparations for this day started in October last year, when Wing sought an area to try out a new model of delivering packages in the densely populated areas in the USA. At the time, Wing said, instead of the usual one big hub from where deliveries would be made, the company would set up little hubs – called nestlets – at retail locations in the city, starting with Walgreens in Frisco and Little Elm.

The drones would arrive in small containers that serve as tiny hangars and their operations will be based at rooftops and small portions of the parking lot, allowing each store to quickly and easily deploy a small, dedicated fleet from its parking lot, on its roof, or in small spaces adjacent to the building.

Says Wing; “Customers will use the marketplace within our app to select items, then choose a delivery zone option for their home – could be a yard, driveway, or both – and place their order.

“In another Texas first, Walgreens, not Wing, employees will fulfil orders placed with their store.”

That’s right.

“Our Dallas operations are the hub for a new model for drone delivery. Instead of one main Wing nest for our aircraft and operations, we will have several smaller nestlets co-located at local businesses, starting with Walgreens. These nestlets can take as little space as a few parking spaces, and they allow for our partners to directly fulfil orders placed with their store.”

The drone company and its partner have also used the time to conduct a community outreach programme, where they met residents to explain how the new delivery service would work. They got feedback, answered questions, and tweaked planned offerings.

“When we go into these neighbourhoods, that is a sacred space and we take that responsibility really seriously,” said Jacob Demmitt, Wing’s Marketing Manager in USA.

The outreach also worked as a useful survey to ensure that the company was offering a service that brings real value to the local community, and sets the stage for a long-term partnership with the Dallas metropolitan area.

They also worked closely with regulators, aviation stakeholders and city officials. This, according to Operations Manager Steven Yates, is to assure customers understand that drone deliveries are safe, reliable and consistent.

“In addition to the Walgreens store, Wing has teamed up with Hillwood to prepare a separate drone delivery facility within Frisco Station, an urban, mixed-used development located in Frisco,” the company says. “Hillwood has a long track record supporting forward-thinking, innovative transportation initiatives across the region, most notably at its AllianceTexas development and its designated Mobility Innovation Zone.

“We look forward to working with Hillwood as we deploy a facility at Frisco Station that has all the usual delivery capabilities, but will be dedicated to exploring new use cases, community demonstrations, school field trips and public tours.”

Until now package deliveries using drones in the USA have been limited to smaller towns, where aerial traffic and land usage are less crowded and complex. Wing has been perfecting its art outside the country though, enjoying well over 100,000 flights in a city called Logan in Queensland, Australia.


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