Flirtey, the Nevada-based startup that made the first FAA-approved drone delivery in the United States (watch the video above), is making history once again. Flirtey’s six-rotor delivery drone has been accepted into the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Flirtey’s delivery drone was delivered to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which displays some of the most important artifacts and advancements in aviation history. The delivery drone will be “indefinitely” displayed after it has been properly prepared by museum collections specialists.
“Flirtey’s delivery was the ‘Kitty Hawk moment’ for the drone industry and it is fitting that our delivery drone will now be part of the same institution that displays the Wright Flyer,” says Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny.
The carbon fiber and aluminum delivery drone lowers packages in a controlled manner while the drone hovers in place. There are several built-in safety features, including an automatic return-to-safe-location in case of low battery, low GPS signal or communication loss.
Flirtey’s drone delivered medical supplies from an airfield to a medical clinic in Wise County, Virginia in 2015, marking the first legal first legal drone delivery in the US. The Flirtey delivery drone flew three 3-minute flights and delivered 10 pounds of medicine to the clinic, showing the potential for using drones to deliver goods to remote areas. It used a custom, 3D-printed tether to lower the medicine to the ground.
More recently, Flirtey also completed the first FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the US, delivering a package that included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit to a residential area in Hawthorne, Nevada. The delivery drone flew along a half-mile, pre-programmed delivery route and lowered the package at a precise drop-off location. A Flirtey pilot and several observers were on standby as backup to the autonomous system, but were never needed.
“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,” Chris Walach, director of operations for the FAA-designated Nevada UAS Test Site, said of the urban drone delivery. “The Flirtey team excelled in all aspects of safe flight operations in the National Airspace System (NAS).”