Late-night snack runs may be a thing of the past.
Ubiquitous convenience store chain 7-Eleven is working with a drone manufacturer to deliver store items by air. The retailer marked its 89th birthday this month by treating a customer to its first drone-delivered package: a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and, oh yes, Slurpees.
With help from the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems and Flirtey, an independent drone manufacturer, 7-Eleven marked the first-ever package delivery to a U.S. customer’s home via drone, according to a July 22 press release.
“It’s amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes,” said Reno, Nev., resident Michael (no last name given), who received the delivery.
The mission added another notch to Flirtey’s belt as it works to corner the independent drone delivery market. The company completed the first FAA-approved drone delivery test in the U.S. last year and later donated the drone to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Last month, Flirtey conducted the first “ship-to-shore” medical supply drone delivery in partnership with Johns Hopkins University.
The Federal Aviation Administration opened the door for future drone delivery services when it issued regulations earlier this summer that allow drones weighing 55 pounds or less to be used commercially.
However, under the regulations, drone operators are required to keep the drones within their line of sight and away from crowds. Small commercial drones also should only be flown during daylight hours, the FAA said. Drone industry groups have complained that these type of restrictions hamper innovation when it comes to testing and developing new drone uses.
But federal constraints haven’t kept companies like Amazon and Google from readying drone delivery services. Google is aiming to launch its “Project Wing” in 2017. And within the next year, Flirtey plans to start delivering packages from stores to people’s homes, Matt Sweeny, the company’s co-founder and CEO, recently said.
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