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Alphabet-Owned Drone Delivery Company Expands in Texas

Wing, a drone delivery company owned by Google parent company Alphabet, has opened a remote operations center in Coppell, Texas. The facility is part of a larger, undisclosed expansion plan in the state.

Wing Drone Landing Pads -- Courtesy Wing Twitter.jpg
A drone nests consist of an array of landing (and charging) pads. The black and white squares are geofiducials - they help the drones return from a mission, land & charge - all autonomously.
Image courtesy of Wing (via Twitter)
(TNS) — Wing, a drone delivery company owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has opened a remote operations center in Coppell that will allow it to expand its delivery capabilities in North Texas and beyond.

Wing has been operating in Frisco and Little Elm since April, making deliveries to homes within 4 miles of The Star along the Dallas North Tollway and a Walgreens on Eldorado Parkway.

The new facility is also monitoring Wing’s drone nests in Christiansburg, Va., and has the capacity to monitor more locations.

Wing isn’t ready to disclose where it will expand yet in North Texas, but it expects to make announcements next year, said Jacob Demmitt, Wing’s U.S. marketing manager.

The center is on the 10th floor of an office building in Cypress Waters along LBJ Freeway in Coppell. There’s one other remote facility at its headquarters in Palo Alto, but the Central time zone works out better for both Wing’s future plans and operations on the East Coast, Demmitt said. “And with the airports here, there’s a lot of pilot experience in the area.”

The facility’s staff monitoring the drones have remote pilot licenses from the FAA and receive training from Wing. Most of them have worked in aviation, he said. Thomas Hillier, the facility’s flights operations lead, has worked in charter aviation and in the Army National Guard’s drone operations.

The pilots monitor the flights, weather and any mechanical difficulties,but don’t control the drones. “There’s no joystick,” Demmitt said. There are mulltple computer screens and displays of live remote feeds from the drone nests.

Besides looking out for mechanical difficulties and making sure deliveries are completed and drones return to their nest, pilots can pause all traffic if there’s bad weather and tell the system when to resume.

When a customer places an order, Wing’s system automatically plans the route and tells the ground personnel which drone to load. The drones are sitting on charging pads ready to go. Blue Bell ice cream is a popular delivery from The Star, which has a limited menu of items. Drones at Walgreens can delivery whatever will fit. A Wing drone can carry up to 3 pounds and travel 65 miles per hour 150 feet above ground. It has a 3-foot wing span, is 4 feet long and weigh 10.6 pounds.

Asked if the delivery service will ever come into Dallas from the suburbs, even near Love Field, Hillier said, “There’s nothing that keeps us from being a certain distance from an airport.”

Drones fly lower than commercial air traffic and can be programmed to avoid flight paths, the mountains in Virginia and construction cranes and clusters of tall buildings around Dallas-Fort Worth, he said.

Still, Hillier said, any expansion requires local government and FAA approvals.

©2022 The Dallas Morning News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.