Back to all posts

September 12, 2023

Drone delivery regulations in the U.S. that support safe, scaled delivery

  • , Policy
  • , United States


Over the last ten years, we have seen drones and drone delivery technology go from a cool idea with vast potential to a real solution that is delivering for communities. This transition is happening because many of the pieces needed to propel the growth of the industry are quickly coming into place.

On the technology side of things, drone delivery has proven itself a safe and reliable service that can scale to meet demand in distinct communities. Wing alone has completed over 350,000 deliveries to communities across three continents. We’ve even had days where we deliver over 1,000 packages – or one every 25 seconds.  Other US companies are also contributing to the realization of progress in this sector.

For the communities where drone delivery operations exist, we’re also seeing high levels of acceptance. A recent survey of the Christiansburg, VA community – one location where Wing operates – found that nearly 90 percent of those surveyed have a positive view of drone delivery. This is significant because it is the first survey to actually speak to people who live in a community where drone delivery exists – and it shows a vast increase in positive sentiment over prior surveys of communities where the service does not exist.

A big reason for that uptick in support is no doubt the convenience of drone delivery. The technology has a lot of societal benefits: it’s fast and reliable; it reduces traffic accidents and road congestion; and it’s much better for the environment. But it’s the individual benefits that are sometimes more striking. Take an 84-year-old couple in Wing’s service region in Virginia who set a world record by placing over 1,200 drone delivery orders. For them, this is not a technological novelty. The couple has used drone delivery when they faced mobility and transportation challenges, and even credit the service with allowing them to remain in their home longer than they thought they would be able to.

With this level of convenience and impact, it’s also no wonder that businesses are adding a vote of confidence in the technology. Just recently, Wing announced a partnership with Walmart in the Dallas area to deliver from two Supercenters – reaching nearly 60,000 households. 

The technology, community acceptance, convenience, and business case for drone delivery are all aligning to position the industry for rapid scale. But one additional piece is still needed: common sense regulations that will allow drone delivery services to expand to more places in the U.S. Currently, the regulatory framework in the U.S. relies on a patchwork of exemptions and waivers that don’t support the scale or benefits that the technology is capable of achieving. 

We are seeing some promising signs and momentum, however. There is strong language in both the House and the Senate FAA reauthorization bills to advance the drone industry. We look forward to Congress passing the FAA Reauthorization Act this year and for the FAA to move forward with writing an economically viable rule that is predictable and pragmatic so companies can operate routinely at scale. 

In order for drone delivery to take off, the industry needs a common sense bill that maintains U.S. aviation leadership to enable safe, reliable drone delivery. The other pieces are there. Getting the right regulatory structure in place will be key to ensuring that the U.S. can be a true leader in adoption of this important technology.

See more on Wing’s recommendation, here: