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June 24, 2021

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Girl Scout cookies take flight in Virginia drone deliveries

A Google affiliate is using drones to deliver Girl Scout cookies in a Virginia community

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Girl Scouts Alice, right, and Gracie pose April 14 with a Wing delivery drone in Christiansburg, Va. The company is testing drone delivery of Girl Scout cookies in the area.
Girl Scouts Alice, right, and Gracie pose April 14 with a Wing delivery drone in Christiansburg, Va. The company is testing drone delivery of Girl Scout cookies in the area. (Sam Dean/ Wing LLC) Photo Gallery

Missing out on Thin Mints in the pandemic? A Google affiliate is using drones to deliver Girl Scout cookies to people’s doorsteps in a Virginia community.

The town of Christiansburg has been a testing ground for commercial delivery drones operated by Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s corporate parent Alphabet.

Now the company is adding the iconic boxed cookies to the more mundane drugstore offerings, FedEx packages and locally made pastries, tacos and cold brew coffees it’s been hauling to a thinly populated area of residential subdivisions since 2019.

Wing said it began talking to local Girl Scout troops because they’ve been having a harder time selling cookies during the pandemic, when fewer people are out and about.

The organization jumped on the opportunity to add a new twist to its skills-building mission.

“I’m excited that I get to be a part of history,” said 11-year-old Gracie Walker, of the Girl Scouts of Virginia Skyline Troop 224. “People are going to realize and be, like, ‘Hey, this is better for the environment and I can just walk outside in my pajamas and get cookies.’”

It’s the latest attempt to build public enthusiasm for futuristic drone delivery as Wing competes against Amazon, Walmart, UPS and others to overcome the many technical and regulatory challenges of flying packages over neighborhoods.

Federal officials started rolling out new rules in mid-April that will allow operators to fly small drones over people and at night, potentially giving a boost to commercial use of the machines.

The 10-pound Wing drone that made the first deliveries in Christiansburg in fall 2019 is already an artifact held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Whether it will go down in history as a revolutionary innovation or a utopian flop remains to be seen.

Amazon has also been working on drone delivery for years. In 2013, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in a TV interview that drones would be flying to customer’s homes within five years, but that deadline has long since passed.

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