An independent drone delivery company called Flirtey (presumably because they're flirting with the ire of shotgun toting reactionaries) successfully completed the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the United States.
In an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nevada, the company successfully delivered a package that included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit by drone.
The test was performed at one of six FAA-designated Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Sites, and the Flirtey operation is investigating rescue and crisis response in disaster-prone areas.
The delivery exhibited some cool advancements Flirtey has made in its drone technology and autonomous systems. The six-rotor drone flew itself along a pre-determined delivery route and lowered the package at a precise drop-off location. A Flirtey pilot and several visual observers were on standby during the delivery as a backup to the autonomous system, but were never needed.
The choice of water, food and a first aid kit illustrates Flirtey's vision to reinvent the delivery process for humanitarian, online retail, and food delivery industries. It's a nice PR touch to a company that's certainly hoping to make some serious bank delivering less essential items. I want my Levi's and I want them now.
"Conducting the first drone delivery in an urban setting is a major achievement, taking us closer to the day that drones make regular deliveries to your front doorstep," said Matt Sweeny, CEO of Flirtey. "Drone delivery by Flirtey is set to save lives and change lifestyles".
Flirtey's accomplishment was completed through a partnership with the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. The company has been working with engineers from the university-based center to perfect and evolve its drone delivery technology. The two partners are also working with NASA to develop a low-altitude air traffic management system. Additionally, Flirtey partnered with Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site and a NASA partner for the State of Nevada.
"This was by far one of the most successful UAS operations we ran and represents an advanced level of test and development of new UAS technology, flight planning, innovation, and mission execution by Flirtey," said Director of Operations for the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site, Chris Walach. "The Flirtey team excelled in all aspects of safe flight operations in the National Airspace System (NAS)."
Flirtey's delivery was filmed for a 28-minute ABC-TV documentary called Foreign Correspondent which will air in mid April.