Most people don’t think of drones as a way to get things like coffee delivered to your door, but that may be changing soon. On Tuesday, Wing — a startup owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet — announced it had become the first certified air carrier for drones in the United States.
The company received Air Carrier Certification from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This is a big milestone because without it Wing wouldn’t be able to pursue commercial deliveries.
“This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao.
Wing noted that for communities across the country, the ability to deliver commercial goods by drones opens up a lot of new opportunities. The company said, “Goods like medicine or food can now be delivered faster by drone, giving families, shift workers, and other busy consumers more time to do the things that matter.”
Other companies have begun to explore the use of drones as well. In Raleigh, North Carolina, UPS partnered with Matternet — a drone tech company — to deliver medical samples at WakeMed’s Raleigh campus using unmanned drones.
“Air delivery also provides greater autonomy to those who need assistance with mobility,” Wing said. “Also, our all-electric drones will reduce traffic on our roads and pollution and carbon emissions in our skies.”
This isn’t Wing’s first step into commercial delivery altogether. Earlier this month, Wing launched delivery services in Canberra, Australia. Similar to Australia, Wing will steer clear of major cities in the United States when it starts testing out services.
Wing will reach out to businesses and community members in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia in order to start preparing for commercial deliveries. The company hopes to launch a delivery trial later this year.