It’s open season on the open skies, so don’t be startled if you see drones flying overhead: Last Friday marked the first successful drone delivery carried out legally in the U.S., with a drone cleared for liftoff by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
Created by Australian startup Flirtey, the drone ferried 10 pounds of medical supplies to a health clinic in rural Virginia (appropriately named the Remote Area Clinic). The drone delivered 24 packages of medication in just three flights, despite initial plans to have the drone make six trips.
“This is a Kitty Hawk moment not just for Flirtey, but for the entire industry,” CEO Matt Sweeny said in a statement. “Proving that unmanned aircraft can deliver lifesaving medicines is an important step toward a future where unmanned aircraft make routine autonomous deliveries of your everyday purchases.”
The success of Flirtey’s delivery demonstrates that drones can, indeed, be used in remote regions that may not be as accessible by foot: The clinic in Virginia, for example, was a 90-minute drive “over winding roads” from its pharmacy, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It looks like Flirtey now has a leg up on Amazon: The tech giant has long wished to send commercial drones into the skies to up its delivery game, but regulatory issues held it back until the FAA ruled in March that Amazon could start testing delivery drones. By then, however, the company’s technology was outdated–and in April, the FAA renewed its research license, granting it an exemption from its ban on commercial usage of drones.
[via The Guardian]