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Wing drone delivery service has made thousands of deliveries during pandemic

Only way to get toilet paper was by Wing drone during coronavirus pandemic

In Christiansburg, VA, the only way to get toilet paper was by Wing drone during the coronavirus pandemic, says Kelly Passek. After signing up in October of last year, Passek has had her shopping delivered weekly by an unmanned aircraft from Wing.

The only way to get toilet paper was by Wing drone

Kelly Passek has her shopping delivered weekly by Wing drone. The deliveries include items such as cough medicine, snacks, and baking ingredients.

“It’s very fast – even the noise you hear is no more than 30 seconds,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The drone delivery service in Christiansburg, Virginia is a pilot project by Wing. The drone company which is owned by Google’s parent Alphabet has similar tests underway in Finland and Australia.

People who have signed up for Wing’s drone delivery service can receive items from locally owned businesses, a national pharmacy, and FEDEX.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, Wing has seen a major uptick in interest for deliveries by drone.

“For a while, they (Wing) were the only one with toilet paper. It turned from being a novelty to being a service that’s used because it’s necessary,” said Passek, who received her first items delivered by drone in October.

Passek who is also a public school librarian then approached Wing to see if the drone company would be able to deliver reading books to students in the school district during the summer. Wing responded positively and those deliveries are currently taking place.

“This is a perfect way to get our students the resources they need and also keep with our social distancing,” she said, adding the program is likely to continue as county officials figure out how to re-open schools in the fall.

Wing was officially launched in 2012 and last year it received FAA approval and it is now the first drone company to operate as an air carrier.

Within Wing’s three-mile delivery range, residents of Christiansburg can sign up for Wing’s delivery service and get their items delivered by drone within about 10 minutes.

Keith Heyde, head of Wing’s Virginia operations said that based on customers’ feedback, the company has changed its offering to include toys and “more food that could be readily prepared”. In addition, Wing allowed local businesses to start using the drone delivery service to make deliveries to their customers. This has proven to be an economic lifeline for some companies, for example about 1/4 of sales from a local café are now being delivered by drone.

Toilet paper and sidewalk chalk became major sellers during the coronavirus pandemic, Heyde confirmed. He added that globally, Wing saw demand increase 350% month over month for its drone delivery service from February to April.

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