One Small Step for Drones
Drone startup Flirtey announced that it has successfully conducted the first autonomous urban drone delivery in the U.S. Done in Hawthorne, Nevada, Flirtey's six-rotor drone flew about a half-mile along a pre-programmed delivery route on March 10th and lowered a package outside a vacant residence.
Staff members programmed the drone’s flight path using GPS. The package it carried contained a parcel of emergency supplies—including food, water, and a first-aid kit.
Flirtey had a drone pilot and visual observers on standby in case of problems, but the drone performed without a hitch.
One Giant Leap for Drone-kind
Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeney explained the importance of the drone delivery, saying the test showed drone potential in delivering goods to homes without crashing into power lines, rooftops, street lamps, and other common obstacles in populated areas (like people, for example).
Other tech companies such as Google and Amazon have expressed great interest in using drones for delivery purposes. But the US FAA has a lengthy approval process for testing and using drones. Indeed, the FAA has multiple regulations and policies when it comes to Unmanned Aircraft Systems. So such advancements will likely be some time coming.
This is not Flirtey's first milestone in drone delivery. In 2015, Flirtey operated the first legally-approved doorstep delivery, delivering medical supplies to a rural health clinic in Virginia.
Flirtey's ace over these giant tech companies is that it has prior experience testing drone deliveries in Australia and New Zealand.