Walgreens and Wing have launched their drone delivery service in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. (Photo courtesy of Walgreens)

Walgreens brings drone delivery service to Texas

April 22, 2022
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
Walgreens and Alphabet’s subsidiary, Wing, a developer of drone-based delivery technology, have launched their joint drone delivery service in a major metropolitan area for the first time, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in Texas.

The two will pilot it in the cities of Frisco and Little Elm, with select customers in the program able to choose from over 100 products that will be delivered to their door, from over-the-counter health and wellness items to snacks and drinks.

The metro area is home to 117 suburbs extending from the city center, giving it a large amount of public space and accessible households for Walgreens and Wing to launch their business. The companies coordinated the deployment of the drone service with local, state, and federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration.

“Being the first national retailer to pilot an on-demand drone delivery service is extremely exciting for me, especially since our store was selected. To think that someone can order a bottle of aspirin and it arrives at their home within minutes is very exciting,” said Debbie Sayler, Walgreens director of pharmacy and retail in North Texas, in a statement.

Walgreens and Wing have provided drone deliveries since October 2019, when they launched their first venture in Christiansburg, Virginia. The two announced that they were bringing the service to Dallas-Fort Worth back in October 2021.

Whereas orders in Virginia are facilitated by Wing employees at a fulfillment site, the company will operate from a minimal number of store parking lot spaces in Texas, with Walgreens loading the packages. This will reduce the footprint of Wing’s operations. A speed bump and painted walkways have also been installed to create a clear pathway from the back of the store to the drones without interfering with drive-thru traffic.

The aim is to deliver products in under 10 minutes. Customers simply place their orders through the Wing’s mobile app. Walgreens team members are notified via tablets provided by Wing and package the items. Team members underwent training with the FAA to attach packages to drones, which will be waiting on charging pads in the parking lot. Wing associates will manage delivery to doorsteps, backyards and other locations. Customers can track drones in real time through the app and will receive notifications when their orders arrive. Drone delivery will be free, and Wing and Walgreens will continue gathering insights from the community to optimize the program.

They are also exploring the option of delivering items to public areas like city parks and pools in the future. “What we noticed in Virginia is that the service went from a novelty to a necessity during the pandemic, and it’s never gone back. Once it became a part of people’s every day, it stuck. It’s a big part of peoples’ lives in Virginia and we hope to see the same thing here," said Jacob Demmitt, U.S. marketing and communications manager for Wing.

Drone delivery is growing popular in the healthcare sector. German company Wingcopter recently agreed to provide a large fleet of its devices to Spright, a drone division for American air medical service provider Air Methods, for delivery of time-critical medical supplies, such as hazmat suits, to sparsely populated, rural areas of the U.S. The partnership was a $16 million deal, with Spright able to facilitate deliveries to hospitals through a network of more than 300 bases across 48 states.

Meanwhile, Everdrone in Sweden has set up a delivery system in which its drones transport defibrillators to patients who are experiencing cardiac arrest. Drones offer a variety of practical applications, including blood and lab sample transportation, vaccine delivery, organ transfer, small medical device transport, search-and-rescue, and telemedicine.