Sep 19, 2023 - Technology

Meet the retirees who've received the world's most drone deliveries

Photo of Susie (84) and Paul (83) Sensmeier, holding a small box delivered by Wing's drone delivery service.

Paul and Susie Sensmeier have had more than 1,200 orders delivered to their front yard in Christiansburg, Va., via Wing's drone delivery service. Photo: Courtesy of Wing

Susie and Paul Sensmeier got their first drone delivery on a whim four years ago, but since then, the retired couple from Virginia has made it part of their daily routine.

Why it matters: Drone delivery, still in its infancy, might represent the future of home delivery for elderly people and people with mobility issues.

What they're saying: As they've aged, the Sensmeiers don't get around as much as they used to. They say drone delivery helped them stay in their home longer than they might otherwise have.

  • "It's caught our fancy," Paul, 84, a retired engineer, tells Axios.
  • "It seems like some version of drone delivery has got to be the future. Whether what we're seeing right now is the final answer is very debatable. But it's been eye-opening for everyone."

The Sensmeiers live near Virginia Tech University, where Google-owned Wing has been doing drone research.

  • In 2019, Paul and Susie went to a campus demo of the technology out of curiosity.
  • "We were one of the few people that weren't running for public office and weren't connected in some way with the drone company or the FAA," said Susie, 83.
  • "They invited us to sign up and we accepted, and that's how we got started."

Since then, the couple has placed 1,200 orders via Wing's drone delivery service in Christiansburg, Virginia — a likely world record, per the company.

  • They ordered a lot of everyday items from Walgreens: playing cards, colored pencils, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sunscreen, cold medicine and COVID-19 test kits.
  • During the pandemic, they also got 93 boxes of Girl Scout cookies delivered by drone — most of which they gave away, Paul says.
  • The couple's drone deliveries really spiked when their grandson was temporarily living with them — he's a fan of the burritos from a local Mexican restaurant, says Susie.
  • Average delivery time: 12 minutes, 14 seconds.

What's next: The Sensmeiers recently moved to an assisted living center and are hoping drones will one day deliver there too.

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