Google’s owner Alphabet has reached a “pivotal” milestone and become the first company to secure approval from the US authorities to begin making drone deliveries.
Wing Aviation, the tech behemoth’s drone subsidiary, has secured approval from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the Department of Transportation to begin carrying out real deliveries to real people.
By being granted the same certifications as smaller airlines, Wing will now be allowed to charge for deliveries of goods to clients in Virginia, and later request permission to expand to other regions.
Although drone regulation means they are still not permitted to fly over crowded or urban areas, it is the only company to have secured permissions beyond carrying out demonstration flights.
“It’s an exciting moment for us to have earned the FAA’s approval to actually run a business with our technology,” Wing’s chief executive James Ryan Burgess said.
While deliveries are penned to start within the next few months, Wing is also set to begin an outreach programme in Virginia to get people familiar with the idea of drones flying over their property.
Unlike Amazon’s programme, Wing will work alongside local businesses to deliver goods, and will soon begin its search for business partners in two towns.
Montgomery County Administrator Craig Meadows added: “Our community is very excited to be the birthplace of drone delivery in the United States”.
This could well open the door for other drone operators to receive the same certifications, providing a framework for how it can be achieved, and potentially sparking the beginning of a drone delivery arms race.