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Walgreens and Google’s Wing are bringing store-to-door drone deliveries to Dallas-Fort Worth

The drones can carry up to 3 pounds and travel 65 miles per hour, 150 feet above ground.

Residents of Frisco and Little Elm are about to be among the first to experience fast drone deliveries of snacks, sodas, over-the-counter meds, toilet paper or even a COVID-19 home test kit in 10 minutes or less.

Walgreens and Wing, a drone delivery company operated by Google’s parent company Alphabet, plan to bring their store-to-door drone delivery service to Dallas-Fort Worth after a successful two-year pilot in Christiansburg, Va.

Walgreens said it will be the first retailer to provide drone delivery services in a major U.S. market, initially shipping directly from its store at 2774 Eldorado Parkway in Little Elm to customers’ homes within a 4-mile radius in Little Elm and Frisco.

Another drone facility will be at Frisco Station, a 242-acre mixed use development along the Dallas North Tollway and John Hickman Parkway that includes The Star campus of the Dallas Cowboys.

Wing is working with Dallas developer Hillwood on the separate Frisco Station facility and has been conducting test flights since June at Hillwood’s AllianceTexas drone testing facility in Fort Worth.

Wing expects to start the commercial service in “the coming months” after obtaining approvals from state and local governments, said Jacob Demmitt, Wing’s U.S. marketing manager. Wing has a Part 135 certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration required to operate such a service. UPS Flight Forward was the first company to receive the drone certificate in 2019, and Amazon’s Prime Air got one last year. In recent years many companies, including Irving-based 7-Eleven, have partnered with drone companies for private tests.

Wing's drone has a 3-foot wing span and weighs 10.6 pounds. It's photographed here holding a Walgreens Wing cardboard container after taking off for a test flight from AllianceTexas.
Wing's drone has a 3-foot wing span and weighs 10.6 pounds. It's photographed here holding a Walgreens Wing cardboard container after taking off for a test flight from AllianceTexas.

In addition to the Walgreens pilot that started in September 2019 in Virginia, Wings has two drone services operating in Australia and one in Finland. In all, Wing has made more than 100,000 deliveries to customers’ homes, said Jacob Demmitt, spokesman for Wings.

Those operations are in smaller markets, he said, and D-FW is the first time it will be used in a densely populated metro area.

The system Wing has developed is small enough to operate from a parking lot or a roof, Demmitt said. The drones and the technology needed to power the delivery platform will be housed in a small shipping container just outside Walgreens.

Here’s how it works:

  • Customers find out whether they’re eligible by putting in their address in the Wing drone delivery app. They can order from 100 items that people commonly purchase on a quick trip to a drugstore or convenience store. Customers select a delivery spot in their front or back yard and press order.
  • A Walgreens employee will process the order, put the items in a recyclable delivery box made from cardboard that’s similar to a cereal box and load the purchases onto the drone for takeoff. That part takes about 6 to 7 minutes.
  • The drones can carry up to 3 pounds and travel 65 miles per hour 150 feet above ground. Most flights from the Walgreens will take about 2 minutes, he said. The drones have a 3-foot wing span, are 4-feet long and weigh 10.6 pounds.
  • A Wing pilot can oversee several traveling drones at once on a screen similar to an air traffic controller, Demmitt said. Weather is watched closely, but the drones can fly in high winds. Wing will stop taking orders if weather has the potential to disrupt the service. So orders aren’t ever delayed but may not be available, he said.
Customers chose on the Wing app where they want the drone to lower their purchase, front yard or back.
Customers chose on the Wing app where they want the drone to lower their purchase, front yard or back.(Sam Dean)

For now, the Frisco Station facility will be used for demonstrations to potential customers and the public such as school field trips, Demmitt said. In other markets, the drones capture a lot of attention and people stop and pull out their cameras, he said. “After a while they just use the service and no one pays much attention to them anymore.”

The Collin County cities were chosen because the city of Frisco has an innovations office that has already embraced technology with similar projects for self-driving cars and robot deliveries, Demmitt said.

“We’re leaning on them,” he said. “They know their community and are a critical partner for us to build this.”

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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Maria Halkias, Staff writer. Maria Halkias has covered the retail scene for The Dallas Morning News since 1993. She has chronicled the stark changes in grocery, malls, e-commerce, major bankruptcies and local retail entrepreneurs.

mhalkias@dallasnews.com /maria.halkias @MariaHalkias mariahalkias LinkedIn Iconhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/MariaHalkias
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