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Delivery by Drone with Wing

Today, we announced that the aircraft used for the first commercial drone delivery to a U.S. home has joined our collection. The drone, built and operated by Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, delivered a winter vest to the home of residents of Christiansburg, Virginia. During this history-making trip on October 18, 2019, Wing delivery drone No. A1229 flew 2.32 miles to make the delivery from Wing’s Christiansburg site to a local home, making the delivery in 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

The aircraft has two forward propellers and 12 vertical propellers, which allow the aircraft to both travel at high speeds and stop to hover while delivering packages from a tether. The 10-pound aircraft flies completely autonomously, routed to specific locations using software and GPS, and makes deliveries without coming within 20 feet of people on the ground. It is also the only system certified by the FAA to safely deliver small packages in customers’ yards in relatively small areas.

When Wing launched service in October 2019, they had three collaborators on board to make deliveries for — FedEx Express, Walgreens and local Christiansburg company Sugar Magnolia. The drone that has joined our collection delivered products from all three companies during its tenure in the Wing fleet.

As the newest artifact in our collection, this drone helps us tell the story of how aviation can reshape how we live and work in our communities by moving more efficiently over short distances without cumbersome infrastructure. It will eventually be displayed in the upcoming Allan and Shelley Holt Innovations Gallery.

We recently spoke with Adam Woodworth, Wing’s chief technology officer, about his work at Wing, his passion for aviation, and how it feels to have a project he worked on join the Smithsonian collection.

To learn more, check out the whole article below.