Google's Wing drone-delivery company announced today that it would be partnering with FedEx and Walgreens to bring autonomous drone deliveries to the U.S. in October. "The pilot program will be launched in Christiansburg, Virginia, one of the two areas in the state that Wing has been testing its drone technology for years," reports Quartz. From the report: People expecting packages from FedEx will be able to choose to get their deliveries made via drone, assuming that they live in certain areas that Wing has designated it can safely deliver parcels in. Similarly, Walgreens customers will be able to order products, such as non-prescription medicine, and have them delivered by drone. Walgreens said in a release that 78% of the U.S. population lives within 5 miles of one of its stores. Wing said that its drones can currently make a round-trip flight of about 6 miles (9.7 km), traveling about 60 miles per hour (97 km per hour), and can carry around 3 lbs (1.4 kg) of payload. The company also said that it would be offering deliveries from a local Virginia retailer, Sugar Magnolia. Wing won't be charging for the delivery service itself during the trial. Wing said on a call with journalists that it will soon be reaching out to members of the Christiansburg community to let them know if they will be able to accept deliveries. Wing's drones don't actually land on the ground when they make deliveries; instead, they hover about 23 ft (7 m) off the ground, lowering their packages down through a winch cable system. If anything happens to snag the cable as it's delivering a package, the drone can sense the tension in the cord and release it, hopefully flying away without incident. It still requires what it calls safe delivery zones, like a backyard or a front pathway outside a house, to be able to make a delivery.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.