Blacksburg becomes first place in the country with FAA approved drone delivery
24 Avril, 2019, 05:20 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
Alphabet Inc's Wing Aviation unit on Tuesday got the OK to start delivering goods by drone in Virginia later this year, making the sister unit of search engine Google the first company to get USA air carrier certification, the Federal Aviation Administration said. A trial food delivery program is expected to start in the area "later this year".
"This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy". The company stressed that drone delivery provides more independence to people who need assistance with mobility and that the all-electric drones will reduce traffic and pollution with zero carbon emissions.
Wing plans to begin a commercial delivery pilot program in Virginia later this year, the company explained in a Medium blog post, as part of the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integrated Pilot Program (UAS IPP). Wing says it'll begin commercial drone deliveries in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, two rural towns in Virginia "within months". Bloomberg earlier reported Wing's approval.
Wing was spun out previous year from Alphabet's X tech incubator (formerly known as Google X), and has been taking part in an FAA-backed pilot program to push the envelope for drone operations in Southwest Virginia. "Safety continues to be our No. 1 priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential", she said in a statement. The first of Wing's drone deliveries were completed in 2014 in Queensland, Australia, where everything from dog treats to a first-aid kit were delivered to farmers.
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The new "airline" status means the drone company is subject to the same regulations as chartered flights, allowing it to deliver cargo and travel longer distances than other drone companies.
Through Wing's app, users can order products, such as meals or medicine, to be delivered by drone.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao hailed the certification. One pilot can operate up to five drones at once and only during the day. Wing worked to prove not only that drone delivery was safe - but that it was actually safer than the alternatives.
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