Drones soon may make deliveries to your doorstep

Published 3:42 pm Friday, November 29, 2019

By William H. Baker


What’s this? The possibility of the unparalleled speed and convenience of “store to door” delivery of health and wellness, food and beverage, and other items via the state-of-art drone technology? That’s part of a news story focused on Walgreens and a pilot program in Christiansburg, Va.

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This is not in the category of a “fake news story.” It’s for real, and it involves extensive research and testing as a promise for the future.

Just a few weeks ago, it was announced that Walgreens in partnership with Wing Aviation had chosen Christiansburg as the test site. The pilot program site relates to Virginia Tech, nearby in Blacksburg, that has been involved in academic research on drone delivery for the past two or three years.

Walgreens is touted as the first retailer in the USA to test on-demand drone delivery service.

In addition to Virginia Tech, other universities involved in similar research projects include Tennessee Tech and Texas A&M. As the interest increases and as pilot programs succeed, the use of drones to deliver to our homes is expected to increase.

The Tennessee Tech program promises to be of particular interest to folks who live in the rural areas served by the university. A primary goal will be to develop and support the success of those areas throughout the Volunteer State.

Walgreens is a familiar name to most of us. Wing Aviation is likely not to be. Wing is listed as the first drone operator certified as an air carrier by the Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year. So, the collaborative effort will be watched closely because it could lead to a future of health and wellness product and retail delivery through the air to our homes.

Imagine a future with home delivery of some of our immediate needs minutes after placing orders.

The drone delivery option being tested in Virginia offers customers access to more than 100 products and six convenient “packs” via the Wing app. For example, those with a common cold can order the “cough/cold pack” with a variety of cough and cold products needed to restore health.

Another example cited by Walgreens: parents at home with a sick child can order what is called the “baby pack” with items such as children’s ibuprofen, water, and more without having to leave the child.

The detailed story is available on the internet [news.walgreens.com] if you would like more details. And, in a future column, I will review the Tennessee Tech proposal to harness science, technology and innovation to transform rural living.

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu