Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is seeing its drone delivery service, Wing, take off as the country shuts down in a bid to curb the coronavirus pandemic’s spread.
Bloomberg reports that the delivery service is seeing a “dramatic increase” in its customer growth, namely in rural Virginia.
This comes at a time when Americans are encouraged to stay at home to combat the spread of the virus, and reduce social interaction with people outside their homes as much as possible. Many public and private venues have closed, leaving only businesses deemed “essential,” such as groceries, pharmacies and other select stores open with restrictions imposed.
Naturally, more people are resorting to the already thriving delivery services to continue self-isolating.
“The technology is particularly useful at a time when people are homebound in many cases and the need to limit human-to-human contact is important,” Wing spokesman Jonathan Bass told Bloomberg.
Wing launched its first deliveries in Australia in April 2019, according to its website. After the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave the company a federal air carrier certification for its drones to legally operate in the U.S., the company tested its shipments in rural Christiansburg, Va., where Bloomberg notes that deliveries have doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The delivery branch of Alphabet focuses on supporting local businesses that may not have the resources larger chain stores have to make deliveries to housebound customers. Mockingbird Cafe, a business in Christianburg, sends pastries to customers through Wing.
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“We’ve always been focused on bringing business to the downtown area here in Christiansburg and that’s almost impossible to do right now,” Mockingbird Cafe owner Donna Speaks told NBC 10 News. “So yeah, this is going to make a big difference for us I think.”
The company has expanded its offerings in light of the pandemic. Wing has partnered with a local Walgreens to deliver toilet paper, pasta and baby food for people in isolation.
Several states are finding creative ways to use drones to combat the virus; New Jersey recently announced its usage of drones to police people violating social distancing in Elizabeth after seeing cases skyrocket.
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