Montgomery County, VA – Wing, the NRV’s local cutting-edge drone delivery system, has landed a feature in Bloomberg. Wing’s drones travel the skies over Christiansburg, VA to deliver packages. The company’s drone aircraft prefer clear, windless weather and are surprisingly light (~10lbs) even loaded with controllers, lasers, cameras, and battery packs required to achieve their maximum 12-mile round-trip range.
Wing is regularly recognized as “the first drone delivery service in the country“. While this is factual, the folks over at Wing can also lay claim to utilizing their own technology to pioneer a completely untapped service industry poised to change the landscape of global markets. Wing is on the ground floor of what experts are saying could be one of the most integrated, fastest-growing, emerging industries in the world.
Per the article, “When key regulatory approvals click into place, the global market for commercial drone services could increase from nearly $20.8 billion in 2021 to about $500 billion by 2028, according to an analysis by Grand View Research Inc. Designers are preparing unmanned aircraft to assist with long- and short-range package delivery, agriculture, infrastructure inspection, fire and police services, and more. Passenger flights might not be far behind.”
Takeoff: The carefully choregraphed aerial ballet shown in the video above is a precisely controlled process that is one of many crucial steps toward building one of the trickiest elements of a successful drone delivery enterprise: consumer confidence.
The Bloomberg feature goes on to state, “crashes must become a statistical near-impossibility before the FAA will certify drones such as these to operate widely and before people will tolerate the increase in air traffic. Even the most zealous drone advocates admit that an ill-timed crash could set the industry back years.”
Uncle Sam has been keeping a watchful eye on the public facing drone business as well. Since 2017, NASA and the FAA have been collaborating to research and write new rules for US airspace. The overarching goal is to accommodate millions of unmanned drone operations below 400 feet, as well as govern next-generation light passenger aircraft blending human and AI piloting at altitudes as high as 5,000 feet. The project includes copious and detailed specifications that cover airframes, sensors, communications hardware, and, most importantly, traffic. The author of the article leaves us with a final thought to reflect upon saying:
“The aircraft will need rules that humans and computers alike can follow intuitively and that help determine who’s accountable for accidents. Done wrong, lives could be lost. Done right, the system will win the public’s trust, create massive new industries, and mark the biggest evolution in U.S. transportation since the interstate highway system.”
Virginia’s New River Valley is a hub for the unmanned systems industry. Learn more here.
Get to know Christiansburg, a town in Virginia’s New River Valley, here.
Onward NRV: Onward NRV is a public/private, regional economic development organization whose mission is to attract and retain world class jobs, investment, and talent in Virginia’s New River Valley. It’s also a movement where leaders from business, government, and higher education work together to promote the economic vitality of the region.