Wing, the drone delivery unit of Google parent company Alphabet, aims to set up shop in the suburbs of Dallas-Ft. Worth, the company said Wednesday, in what would be the first residential drone delivery service in a major metropolitan area in the United States.
Wing said it plans to begin test flights in the Dallas-Ft. Worth bedroom communities of Frisco and Little Elm, and hopes to win the necessary approvals at the local, state and federal levels to launch commercial service in those cities in the coming months.
Wing aims to launch local service in partnership with Walgreens from a store that a spokesperson said would be able to fulfill orders for a limited range of merchandise from customers in an area containing upward of 50,000 people in Frisco and Little Elm.
The drones will be dispatched from a small shipping container configured as a drone base in the Walgreens’ parking lot, and will make deliveries of cargo up to 3 pounds in weight to customers in its service area — primarily those with single-family homes that have yards — who have a suitable spot to which a package can be lowered from the drone by a tether.
Wing says to make a delivery, customers must have a private area at least the size of a picnic blanket that is free of obstacles like bushes or trees.
Wing is also partnering with the property developer Hillwood to establish a drone delivery hub in its mixed residential and commercial community Frisco Station.
Wing said it’s hoping to receive permission to operate drone flights beyond the pilot’s line of sight.
Wing has been conducting test flights of the drones in the Dallas Fort-Worth area since June at Hillwood’s AllianceTexas Flight Test Center, where Hillwood, which is controlled by H. Ross Perot Jr., has also conducted package delivery tests with Bell using a larger unmanned aircraft. Wing started testing its drone delivery service in Christiansburg under a federal initiative called the UAS Integration Pilot Program, making it the first residential drone delivery service in the U.S. Under that pilot program, which came about after the Federal Aviation Administration granted Wing certification as an air carrier, the drones have flown at a cruising altitude of 150 feet and a speed of 65 mph over the city, eventually descending to an altitude of about 23 feet in order to drop its cargo at a home.