Slurpee Flies Home in First FAA-Approved Drone Delivery
July 22, 2016      

Well, that didn’t take long. A week after telling Robotics Trends it will be carrying out drone deliveries to homes within a year, Flirtey just completed the first FAA-approved drone delivery to a home.

Flirtey partnered with 7-Eleven, in honor of the convenience store’s 89th birthday, completing two drone deliveries from a 7-Eleven in Reno, Nevada to a nearby home. The Flirtey drone autonomously delivered Slurpees, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and candy to the home of the family who placed the order.

The delivery was made “in the span of a few minutes,” and the Flirtey drone hovered in place and gently lowered each package to the ground in the family’s backyard.

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Again, this is the first time in U.S. history that a consumer received a package to their home via drone, representing, as Flirtey said, a historic milestone in both U.S. and global commerce.

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“My wife and I both work and have three small children ages 7, 6 and 1. The convenience of having access to instant, 24/7 drone delivery is priceless,” said Reno resident Michael, who received the Flirtey delivery. “It’s amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes.”

Both Flirtey and 7-Eleven said plans are in the works to expand drone delivery tests and work closely together.

“This is just the first step in our collaboration with 7-Eleven,” said Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny. “Flirtey’s historic drone deliveries to date have been stepping stones to store-to-home drone delivery, and today is a giant leap toward a not-too-distant future where we are delivering you convenience on demand.”

“In the future, we plan to make the entire assortment in our stores available for delivery to customers in minutes,” said 7-Eleven EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins. “Our customers have demanding schedules, are on-the-go 24/7 and turn to us to help navigate the challenges of their daily lives.”

There’s no time-table for when a drone delivery program will be rolled out, as there are a couple FAA regulations that need to be resolved. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016, which passed both houses in July 2016, requires the FAA to develop drone delivery rules and to conduct research on flying drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Flying over populated areas is another issue, but Flirtey recently told Robotics Trends it’s confident those two issues will soon be resolved.

Robotics Trends reached out to Flirtey about how it worked around the BVLOS and flying over populated areas regulations for the 7-Eleven drone delivery. We’ll update this story when we receive more information. Judging by the video, however, the home could be directly behind the 7-Eleven store.

Flirtey has been at the forefront of the drone delivery industry. The company already has a commercial drone delivery business in New Zealand, where the drone regulatory picture is much clearer. In July 2015, Flirtey made the first drone parcel delivery in New Zealand by transporting auto parts 2 kilometers. Check out the drone delivery below.

Flirtey has also made three other historic drone deliveries in the US. On July 17, 2015 Flirtey completed the first FAA-approved drone delivery by flying medical supplies from the Lonesome Pine Airport to the Remote Area Hospital in Wise County, Virginia, which is one of the most impoverished area’s in the country. Flirtey also completed the first FAA-approved urban drone delivery in US history when it delivered a package to a residential area in Hawthorne, Nevada. And in June 2016 Flirtey successfully completed the first ship-to-shore drone delivery in US history, delivering medical supplies from a vessel to an onshore medical camp in Cape May, New Jersey. Watch the ship-to-shore drone delivery below.

For all of its accomplishments, Flirtey’s drone has been accepted to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The six-rotor drone, which is made of carbon fiber and aluminum, has several built-in safety features, including an automatic return-to-safe-location in case of low battery, low GPS signal or communication loss.