Delivery Drone, Wing M7000

On October 18, 2019, in Christiansburg, Virginia this M7000 drone made the first delivery of the first Federal Aviation Administration approved aerial drone home delivery service in the United States. Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s Alphabet corporation, began development of delivery drones in 2012 as part of a new wave of innovators seeking to adapt developments in lightweight distributed electric propulsion systems powered by a new generation of lighter lithium ion batteries. Their goal was to create a low-cost aerial delivery system that was not tied to a road network that was increasingly strained and inefficient. Wing approached the delivery problem differently than most other pioneers in the field by lowering products from an altitude of twenty-three feet (seven meters) in a disposable conainer via a breakaway tether that is released if snagged or grabbed.

While the M7000 flies its routes autonomously according to restrictions set by the Federal Aviation Administration, local ordinances, and community interests, a supervising pilot monitors multiple drones at the launch site control center that allows control of up to fifteen drones simultaneously. The supervisory pilot is primarily responsible for monitoring video feeds of the drones cameras to watch for unanticipated hazards.

Package weights do not exceed 1.5kg (3.3lb) and consists of commercial deliveries from local retailers to delivery sites within a six-mile radius of the "nest" base. Wing operated other delivery validation programs in Finland and Australia, before beginning the Christiansburg operation, where it initially partnered with Walgreens pharmacy, FedEx delivery service, and Sugar Magnolia, a local retailer. For the October 18, 2019 start of operations, three drones - one each for the three commercial partners - set off from the "nest" operations center. This aircraft, 1229, reached its delivery point first, carrying a FedEx package containing a winter vest for customers Paul and Susie Sensemeier. It covered the 2.32-mile (3.73-kilometer) trip in two minutes and fifty seconds.