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Walgreens and Alphabet’s Wing Aviation Launch Drone Delivery Pilot

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Coresight Research

Key Points

On September 19, 2019, Walgreens announced a partnership with Wing Aviation to offer an on-demand drone delivery service. Wing Aviation is part of Alphabet.

  • Using Wing Aviation’s drones, Walgreens will be the first US retailer to test an on-demand drone delivery service.
  • The pilot program launches next month to deliver food and beverages, over-the-counter medications and other items, but not prescription medicine.
  • Drone deliveries in the US are still at the early stages: Amazon and UPS are also testing drone delivery.

On September 19, Walgreens announced a partnership with Wing Aviation to offer an on-demand drone delivery service. Wing Aviation is part of the Alphabet family of companies and the first drone operator certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which occurred in April this year.

Walgreens will be the first US retailer to test an on-demand drone delivery service

Walgreens has been working to offer greater customer-focused business value as it continues to transform itself: On-demand commercial drone delivery is the latest move. As the first US retailer to use drones for customer delivery, Walgreens said the company is working to offer the products customers want “wherever, whenever and however they may want them.”

Pilot program will not deliver prescription medicine

Walgreens will start the new service next month, testing it first in Christiansburg, Virginia. Walgreens said that if and when it expands the service, the company will be in a unique position since approximately 78% of the US population lives within five miles of a Walgreens, Duane Reade or Walgreens-owned Rite Aid store, according to the company.

Eligible customers in the Christiansburg area can use the Wing Aviation app to request drone delivery for food and beverage items, over-the-counter medications and other products. The drone will deliver the items within five to 10 minutes. The company will not deliver prescription medications by drone. The drone can travel up to 12 miles (19 kilometers), so can deliver as far as six miles away (six miles to drop off, six miles back). On arrival, the drone hovers and uses a winch to lower the package, drop it off and return to base.

Walgreens’ on-demand drone delivery service with Wing Aviation
Source: Wing

 

Amazon and UPS are also testing drone delivery

In June 2019, Amazon unveiled the latest version of its Prime Air delivery drone, a hybrid aircraft that can take off and land vertically, in addition to sustained forward flight. In July, UPS said it would create a separate subsidiary to expand its drone delivery capabilities, which are currently limited to transporting medical samples between a group of hospitals in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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