Wing, a subsidiary of parent company Google Alphabet, said it added Girl Scout cookies to a pilot drone delivery service in Virginia to help scouts increase sales affected by the pandemic.
Missing Thin Mints in the Pandemic? A Google affiliate uses drones to deliver Girl Scout cookies to the doors of people in a community in Virginia.
The city of Christiansburg has been a testing ground for commercial delivery drones operated by Wing, a subsidiary of parent company Google Alphabet.
Now, the company is adding the iconic boxed cookies to the most mundane drugstore offerings, FedEx packages, and locally made baked goods, tacos and cold coffees, which it has been transporting to a sparsely populated area of residential subdivisions since 2019.
Wing said she started talking to local Girl Scout troops because they had a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic, when fewer people were on the move.
It’s also the latest attempt to build public enthusiasm for futuristic drone delivery as Wing competes with Amazon, Walmart, UPS and others to overcome the many technical and regulatory challenges associated with parcel theft in the United States. above neighborhoods.
Federal authorities began rolling out new rules in early April that will allow operators to fly small drones over people and at night, which could give the machines a boost in commercial use. Most drones will need to be equipped so that they can be identified remotely by law enforcement.
The 10-pound Wing drone that made the first deliveries to Christiansburg in the fall of 2019 is already an artifact in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. It remains to be seen whether it will go down in history as a revolutionary innovation or a utopian flop.
Amazon has also been working on drone delivery for years. In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in a TV interview that drones were flying to customer homes within five years, but that deadline has long passed. The company gained government approval to deliver packages by drones last August, but Amazon said it was still testing them and had yet to start delivering goods to buyers.
David Vos, an aerospace engineer who led Google’s Project Wing until 2016, said he was surprised that drone delivery plans didn’t take off faster.
“I thought it was entirely feasible to be up and running by 2021,” Vos said. While he still believes drone technology is getting closer to the size, weight, and power needed to transport goods safely in populated places, Vos said the tech industry also needs more. ‘a cultural change.
In particular, he said, it must bring in people in the traditional aviation industry who have experience building “safety critical systems” that meet strict government standards.