Flirtey has conducted what it says is the country’s first fully autonomous, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved drone delivery in an urban environment.
The start-up says the drone flew in an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nev., and delivered a package that included bottled water, food and a first-aid kit. Flirtey conducted the operations through a partnership with the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center at the University of Nevada, Reno., as well as the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, one of the country’s FAA-designated test sites.
The six-rotor unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flew autonomously along a predetermined delivery route and lowered the package at a drop-off location. A Flirtey pilot and several visual observers were on standby as an emergency backup but were not needed to assist with the flight.
“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,” comments Matt Sweeny, CEO of Flirtey.
Last July, the company teamed with the Virginia-based UAS test site to deliver a series of medical supplies to a rural healthcare clinic in Wise County, Va.
According to Flirtey, the Nevada urban delivery has demonstrated that advanced drone systems allow the aircraft to safely navigate around buildings and deliver packages with precision. In addition, the delivery was filmed for an ABC-TV documentary, Foreign Correspondent, which will air next month.
“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,” says Chris Walach, director of operations for the Nevada UAS test site.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev., adds, “I congratulate Flirtey on successfully completing the nation’s first fully autonomous, urban package delivery, and I am thrilled that Flirtey is not only testing its cutting-edge technology in Nevada, but also creating jobs through its headquarters relocation to Reno.”