Amazon may have started it, but the race to put the first viable package delivery drones into regular operation seems to have evolved into a competition between FedEx and UPS.
FedEx is claiming another first in that race, announcing that it has completed a scheduled commercial residential delivery to a home in Christiansburg, Virginia. The company said the delivery is the first of its kind in the U.S.
The drone delivery was conducted by Wing Aviation, in collaboration with FedEx Express, as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (IPP). This delivery of a FedEx Express package marks the launch of the first scheduled, commercial residential drone delivery service and the first scheduled e-commerce delivery via drone delivery trial in the United States, according to FedEx.
For the duration of the trial, FedEx said, Wing drones will transport select FedEx packages to qualifying homes in Christiansburg, demonstrating the benefits of drone delivery for last-mile delivery service. Wing has received the first authorization from the FAA to conduct scheduled, commercial drone package delivery to residences.
“Innovation has been part of the FedEx DNA since day one, and we are always looking for new and better ways to deliver the world to our customers’ doorsteps,” said Don Colleran, president and CEO of FedEx Express, in a press release. “For our customers in Christiansburg, this collaboration will test the latest innovation in the last mile of a residential package delivery. We hope that this latest addition to our delivery options will enhance the last-mile service for urgent same-day deliveries, customers in rural or semi-rural areas, and other exceptional delivery needs.”
Customers of FedEx who live within designated delivery zones in Christiansburg, Virginia, and opt in to the Wing delivery service, will be able to receive eligible packages via drone during the trial program, provided certain operating conditions are met. Wing’s pilot program also includes a collaboration with Walgreens, allowing program participants to order health and wellness products through Wing’s delivery app.