Walgreens testing drone deliveries in populated areas for the first time

A new development at drugstore chain Walgreens may hold part of the answer to ongoing labor shortages that are causing many problems in the U.S. economy and supply chain.

Walgreens announced Wednesday that it would be testing drone deliveries to customers in two areas of Texas as a possible way to get goods in people’s hands when hiring more workers is difficult. 

The chain is partnering with Wing, a Google-affiliated company, to make the deliveries in relatively more populated areas than has been done in the past.

The city of Frisco and the town of Little Elm will benefit from the drone deliveries, which can be launched from the store roof, the parking lot, or any area near the store.

First time drones used in populated areas

“Until now, this type of service in the United States has been limited to smaller towns, where land usage is less crowded and complex,” Wing said in a statement. “Wing’s reliable aircraft and advanced flight planning and routing capabilities make it uniquely capable of operating a highly automated drone delivery service in more crowded, complex operating environments.”

100 items normally available in the stores can be ordered for delivery, including some medications.

Wing is even able to deliver to apartments and not just single family dwellings, the company said.

“It’s got very advanced planning and routing capabilities so for each flight, the system does millions of simulations to get the best route,” Wing’s head of marketing and communications, Jonathan Bass, said. “It can navigate to a very specific location.”

Major future plans

The service has been tested in other areas, including Europe and Virginia. Walgreens would like to use it in a major metropolitan area in the future if the testing goes well.

If drones can be used instead of delivery trucks that need drivers, it will cut down on labor shortages that have made it difficult for the economy to recover from COVID-19 and other factors.

Those who are now driving delivery trucks may be able to instead drive trucks from ports to warehouses to help alleviate supply chain problems.

Bring on the robots, I say, if that’s what it takes to fully staff companies all around the country. Self-checkouts, drone deliveries, and order kiosks for everyone!

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