The evolving world of drone technology may soon be sending you an email message, “Your package is being delivered today,” by a drone. Drones in the Christiansburg, VA, area are being tested and used for residential deliveries by Wing Aviation. The company is operating drone delivery flights from a central hub and flying products within a three-mile radius. The number of deliveries averages around 57 per week that are primarily made to suburban homes when the resident is home to accept delivery.
Wing Aviation is collaborating with the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, an FAA-designated UAS test site. In a recently published report by VA Tech, “Perspectives on drone delivery,” results from a survey were compiled. The survey asked residents in Christiansburg, a town of 22,000, how they feel about drone delivery.
The survey, which was conducted in the fall of 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, determined that 87 percent of residents like the idea of drone delivery either a little, a moderate amount, or a great deal. Eighty-nine percent responded that they were at least somewhat likely to, highly likely to, or have already used the service.
The survey was given to 834 Christiansburg residents, and from those, 821 were included in the final report. The authors of the survey report noted that the results could possibly be skewed, however, for several reasons: the survey population in Christiansburg has first-hand experience and knowledge about the delivery service through the media, more than other areas with no experience; Christiansburg is in close proximity to Virginia Tech, a university known for its strong engineering programs; the area’s high level of education among its population that is generally more receptive to new technology overall; and residents may be more in favor of drone deliveries due to their experiences of living through the pandemic.
“The majority of respondents (58 percent) agreed that the pandemic had improved their opinion about drone delivery,” the authors of the report said.
Following the release of positive public feedback for drone delivery, Wing Aviation has initiated a request for federal approval to operate drone flights from a remote location rather than from a central ground operating site. Wing wants permission to stage unmanned aircraft at multiple locations.