NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — There's a different approach to home delivery that is going to start in two North Texas cities, as Walgreens begins flying packages by drone to residents.
Walgreens, in partnership with Google's drone-making affiliate -- Wing, will begin testing the service next week in the Collin County cities of Frisco and Little Elm.
"Every delivery made by drone is taking a delivery vehicle off our roads," said Frisco Mayor Jeff Cheney.
It will be Wing's first commercial expansion in the U.S. after years testing the concept in Virginia and parts of Australia and Finland.
Walgreens says about 100 store items will be available for air delivery when the service rolls out in Texas in the coming months, including over-the-counter medication, snacks and cosmetics. Store employees will be tasked with taking online orders and then loading the purchased items onto one of a small number of 10-pound drones.
The drones are able to navigate autonomously — though a human pilot can also control them remotely — and are powered by two forward propellers on their wings and 12 smaller vertical propellers. A tether releases to drop the package onto a front lawn.
The first phase of the initiative will operate out of the parking lot of a single Walgreens store in a shopping center near the border of Little Elm and Frisco. The drones will reportedly be able to serve thousands of people within a 4-mile radius of the store.
Frisco, which grew from about 6,000 people in 1990 to about 200,000 last year, has pitched itself as a testing ground for new modes of transport such as self-driving cars and Uber's flying taxis. Cheney said he doesn't expect many complaints about drone noise or safety.
Federal officials started rolling out new rules in mid-April to allow operators to fly small drones over people and at night, potentially giving a boost to commercial use of the machines. Wing says its Texas service will be limited to daytime hours for now.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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