A six-rotor fully-autonomous drone had successfully delivered a package containing bottled water, some food and a first-aid kit to a residential location of a small town in Nevada, claimed to be the first such delivery on urban soil in the US.
Operating without any human intervention, the drone flew for about half a mile along a pre-programmed delivery route, established using GPS on March 10, 2016, and lowered it outside a vacant residence in a deserted part of Hawthorne with a population of about 3,000 residents.
The demo went exactly as planned and none of the visual observers on standby during the flight had to intervene in any way, said Matt Sweeney, CEO of the independent drone delivery company Flirtey.
“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.
The flight was noticed by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, who praised the company for being the first to accomplish such a task, and NASA is already working with the drone industry and the Federal Aviation Administration on a low-altitude air traffic control system to prevent crashes involving drones and other low-altitude aircraft.
Furthermore, the entire flight was filmed for an upcoming ABC-TV documentary.
This delivery demonstrates that advanced drone systems allow aerial vehicles to safely navigate around buildings and deliver packages with precision within a populated area.
Flirtey has been conducting research and development through a partnership with the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Centre at the University of Nevada, Reno. Nevada is one of six states the FAA has designated as unmanned aircraft systems test sites.
According to Christ Walach, Director of Operations for the FAA-designated Nevada site, this was by far one of the most successful UAV operations the agency had ever ran, and is a testament to the highest level of test and development by Flirtey.