Flirtey makes a milestone urban drone delivery

Image: Flirtey drone
Flirtey’s hexacopter hovers over Nevada during a drone delivery test. (Credit: Flirtey)

A startup named Flirtey says it’s executed the first FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the United States, in a test that could blaze a trail for Amazon and other companies that want to do the same thing.

The GPS-guided drop-off to an unoccupied house took place on March 10 in Hawthorne, Nev. The package of supplies, including bottled water, emergency food supply and a first-aid kit, was lowered by a rope to the house’s front porch from a hovering hexacopter. A drone pilot and several visual observers were on standby in case something went wrong, but they weren’t needed, the company said.

“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,” Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny said today in a news release about the test.

Flirtey has already used drones to deliver textbooks in Australia and auto parts inNew Zealand, but its grand plan is to crack the market in the United States. That’s why it’s been participating in limited tests sanctioned by the Federal Aviation Administration at specified sites. Last July, Flirtey conducted a similar test for rural drone delivery in Virginia.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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