In December 2019, the Google-backed company Wing was cleared to use its delivery drones for BVLOS operations. The official clearance made the company one of the first to run a fully operational commercial drone delivery service. As of June 2020, Wing has taken up a project of delivering books to kids in Virginia. Kelly Passek, a school librarian, wanting her students to read during the pandemic teamed up with the company.
The first drone delivery of its kind
Wing has been instrumental in delivering food, medicines, and essentials through its delivery drones. However, delivering books will be the first of its kind. Kelly Passek is also a regular customer of the company’s drone deliveries. The efficiency and speed of the deliveries inspired the librarian to deliver the books using drones.
“I think kids are going to be just thrilled to learn that they are going to be the first in the world to receive a library book by drone,” Passek told The Washington Post.
The drone delivery will only be carried out in the designated Christiansburg delivery area. The deliveries are expected to take place this following week. Passek will collect the orders from students through a Google form. She will then package and transport the selected books to Wing’s facility for the deliveries. Through this system, approximately 600 students in the district could gain access to the books. Keith Heyde, head of Virginia operations for Wing, stated that due to the pandemic the number of global deliveries shot up to 1,000 in a single week.
The drone that makes it happen
Wing’s drones have been developed to travel far and fast without making a sound.
Wing’s Drone Specifications:
- Speed: 113 kph (70 mph)
- Round-trip range: 20 km (12 miles)
- Payload capacity: 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
- Drone weight: 4.8 kg (10.6 lbs)
Each drone has two large wings with a wingspan of 4.3ft that enables it to fly faster. Additionally, the drone has two long arrays of 12 propellers that not only help the drone achieve VTOL but also significantly reduce the noise. Adding on to that, the drone makes use of a tether to deliver packages. The drone hovers in the air while the package is lowered to the ground via a tether and then the tether retracts back. Ground-based UTM teams keep a track of the drone at all times. The drone itself is equipped with intelligent software that analyzes the surroundings and even monitors its own health and performance.
Google-backed Wing superseded Amazon to receive FAA’s approval for its BVLOS delivery drones. Currently, there are a few more companies that are either delivering or conducting trials. Wingcopter, Flirtey, and even Ben & Jerry’s have begun delivering their products via drones.