If you think the idea of delivering goods using the latest drone technology is still some way off commercial reality then you need to think again! Last year saw the first legally sanctioned delivery of medical supplies to a clinic using a drone delivery system. However, perhaps more impressively Flirtey, the drone’s manufacturer, also completed a delivery in New Jersey from the shore to a ship and back again. Is that not a perfect example of how drones should be used? Brace yourself for the oncoming delivery drone revolution.
Successful testing of drones
After earlier FAA observed test flights in Nevada, Chris Walach, the Director of Operations at NIAS, said “This delivery required special flight planning, risk analysis, and detailed flight procedures ensuring residential safety and privacy were equally integrated”. During these pre-programmed half mile test flights the drone successfully made a delivery of food, a medical kit and water to the doorstep of a house.
The company’s proprietary six-rotor drone also recently transported blood and urine samples from the shore to a barge then “on the second leg, Flirtey’s delivery drone landed on a barge on turbulent seas and was loaded with medical supplies, including water purification tablets, insulin and a first aid kit, and delivered these ship-to-shore to representatives from the United Nations and the American Red Cross.” said Flirtey’s CEO, Matt Sweeny, when interviewed by Gizmag. This FAA approved flight took off from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal went across the Cape May Canal towards Delaware Bay landing on the ship then returned back to shore.
Commercial delivery drone operations
Flirtey recently teamed up with 7-Eleven to carry out the first autonomous drone delivery of hot coffee and food to a customer’s backyard in Reno, Nevada. The aluminium and carbon fibre drone uses a 3D printed tether to make the deliveries to the recipient’s doorstep. This is the type of delivery service which has been promised for some years and is now finally a reality. It may take the general public some time to “trust” this new delivery technology but having passed the necessary regulatory hurdles it will be coming to a store near you very soon!
Matt Sweeny has also been elaborating on the company’s commercial activities confirming “This is just the first step in our collaboration with 7‑Eleven. Flirtey’s historic drone deliveries to date have been stepping stones to store-to-home drone delivery, and today is a giant leap toward a not-too-distant future where we are delivering you convenience on demand.”
Acceptance by the establishment
Additionally the drone has been accepted into the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. All of these developments come after the recently issued operational rules from the FAA and DOT which are covered in this press release.
The potential for drones to reach disaster zones without needing a human to manually steer them is quite promising – especially when first responders cannot navigate to those in need during natural disasters. While it may take some time for the general public to come round to the idea of drone deliveries as standard, the humanitarian and commercial benefits of such a delivery system should not be underestimated.