Drone scores a first by successfully delivering package in Nevada town

A drone has successfully delivered a package to a residential location in a Nevada town in what its maker and the state’s governor said on Friday was the first fully autonomous urban drone delivery in the US.

Matt Sweeney, chief executive of drone-maker Flirtey, said the six-rotor drone flew about a half-mile along a programmed delivery route on 10 March, then lowered the package outside a vacant residence in Hawthorne.

The route was established using GPS. A pilot and visual observers were on standby during the flight but were not needed, Sweeney said.

He said the package included bottled water, food and a first-aid kit.

Flirtey’s drone makes the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved urban drone delivery in Hawthorne, Nevada. Photograph: Uncredited/AP

“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,” Sweeney said.

Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada congratulated the company “on successfully completing the nation’s first fully autonomous urban package delivery”.

Nasa is working with the drone industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on a low-altitude air traffic control system to prevent crashes involving drones and other low-altitude aircraft. Nevada is one of six states the FAA has designated as unmanned aircraft systems test sites.

Flirtey conducted the first FAA-approved rural drone delivery in July – to a healthcare clinic in Virginia. The company recently moved its headquarters from Australia to Nevada.

The Nevada delivery demonstrates that advanced drone systems allow aerial vehicles to safely navigate around buildings and deliver packages with precision within a populated area, Sweeney said.

“This was by far one of the most successful [unmanned aircraft systems] operations we ran and represents an advanced level of test and development … by Flirtey,” said Chris Walach, director of operations for the FAA-designated Nevada site.


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