But will they really deliver the goods?
Drone deliveries just got real. We’ve been reading about them for a good while, along with the occasional news story about a prototype drone model making a product delivery to someone’s doorstep.
But drone deliveries have suddenly taken a major step into the commercial mainstream with the announcement that the first home deliveries of packages from Walgreens have started. They’re being handled by Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet — the parent company of Google.
Wing itself received a special certification from the Federal Aviation Administration recently that allows it to make commercial air deliveries directly to homes in the United States. That’s a first.
In addition to the Walgreens account, Wing is also delivering OTC medication, gifts and other items on behalf of Sugar Magnolia, a Virginia-based retailer.
How do these deliveries work? Customers order products via a special app, and can opt in to receive their items via FedEx Express delivered by drone, which lowers the packages to a designated spot in a yard or driveway.
Wing, Walgreens and Sugar Magnolia aren’t the only people nosing around this method of delivery. Walmart has filed a patent application for a system for retrieving packages delivered by drone, and UPS is also getting into the mix. The FAA has given approval to UPS’s new Flight Forward subsidiary that will allow it to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited number of remote operations. And right on cue, the first Flight Forward agreement for drone delivery services has just been announced, with CVS pharmacies.
So it’s pretty clear that drones have finally broken through to the point where they can be serioiusly tested for consumer use and acceptance. Next, it will be interesting to gauge consumer reaction. Will drone deliveries break out into the mainstream, or are they destined to remain more of a curiosity? Here’s one early read from online business owner Mark Reasbeck:
“[It’s] nice that everybody … has nothing else to do but to order stuff from Walgreens and just sit there and wait for the delivery. What happens if you’re not home? How much [cost] for that service? They have to pay for a ‘shopper’ and then all the pilots watching the drone. This is not needed on so many levels.”
What are your thoughts on this latest transport frontier? Is it a flash in the pan? … or poised for phenomenal success?