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Delivery Drones Buzzing Over Some North Texas Cities

FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - A few taps on an app, and within minutes Greg Allbright had a drone hovering over his driveway in Frisco.

A cable dropped from the aircraft, lowering a white and yellow box to the ground. As it set down, the cable detached on its own from the box, retracted into the drone, and the aircraft buzzed away.

Inside the box was an unlabeled bottle of water. In the coming months, it could be just about anything small available at the Walgreens store just a couple miles from Allbright's home.

"You've got times when your kids aren't feeling good. You need aspirin. You need Tylenol. Whatever it might be. And knowing you can stay there with them, keep them comforted and nice and quiet?" Allbright said after the delivery. "It makes whatever you're going to charge me worth it. Cause I'm going to pay it."

The test flight to his home was one of the first drone delivery company Wing started making this week over neighborhoods in Frisco and Little Elm. It's a necessary step as the company prepares to open the service to the public, an expansion Wing announced in October.

The test flights are in part about training and discovering any operational issues, but also about getting people comfortable with drone delivery, and learning what they may want delivered, especially when many people still associate drones with photography.

"We want to give chances for people to see the drone, fly, be able to meet us, ask questions, long before we ever launch the service," said Wing spokesman Jacob Demmitt.

The company still has to receive some regulatory clearances as well he said, in part because Wing's plans for North Texas are different than test operations it has been running for a couple years in Australia and Virginia. Not only is the Texas operation in a more densely populated area, drones will operate from multiple locations rather than one centralized "Nest," what Wing calls it's takeoff and landing zones. Pilots who watch the largely automated operation also won't necessarily be located on-site.

The test flights this week did show the service to be much faster than driving a car, even when the store was just down the road.

In several tests, the process from order to delivery took five minutes or less.

Driving the same distance to the Walgreens store where the aircraft was launching took seven minutes. That didn't account for going inside to purchase something, and then driving back to the house.

Allbright predicted that convenience alone will make the service a success.

"They're going to come to at one point say, 'how did I live without it?'" he said.

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