7-Eleven, drone delivery service partner on first delivery to residence

Commercial drone home delivery has taken a major step.

7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience retailer, and Flirtey, a leading independent drone delivery service, completed the first fully autonomous drone delivery to a customer’s residence in the United States on July 10, the companies announced Friday.

A Reno-based 7-Eleven store loaded Slurpees, a chicken sandwich, doughnuts, hot coffee and candy into a Flirtey drone delivery container between two trips and the drone flew autonomously using GPS to a local customer’s house. Once at the family’s backyard, the Flirtey drone hovered in place and gently lowered each package. The purchases were delivered to the family in a few minutes.

“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,” the Reno resident, Michael, said in a statement.

In the future, both companies expect drone packages to include “everyday essentials” such as batteries and sunscreen.

This delivery is the first time a U.S. customer has received a package at home via drone, representing a historic milestone in both U.S. and global commerce.

“It really follows kind of the American culture where we seem to be more busy every day,” said Chris Walach, director for the FAA-designated Nevada Unmanned Aviation Test Site and the director of technical operations for the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems, which works with the governor’s economic development office and acts as a clearinghouse for drone-related business opportunities.

Walach said using an app for choosing items to be delivered by drone is the next step for this technology.

“When you can pull up something on your phone, place an order and in short order it gets delivered to your home — not by ground but by air, where it doesn’t get hung up on all of the traffic congestion throughout different metropolitan cities — I mean that’s a big deal. If you can make people’s lives easier somehow that’s exactly what this innovative development does.”

The Federal Aviation Administration on June 21 finalized a regulation, known as Part 107, for small drones that will make it easier for people to operate them for commercial use. With the coming of the Part 107 rules implementation, Walach said drone home deliveries and innovation spinning off home deliveries will become more frequent.

“It does sound extremely innovative today to be able to order a couple of Slurpees and a hot dog using an app, but in the future that may be just something that we do,” Walach said.

The successful drone delivery will open up opportunities for existing businesses to open a new revenue stream.

“I”m really excited about Flirtey’s success, but I think their success is kind of indicative of what we’re doing across Nevada with all of our teammates,” he said. “If you want to be the first in the industry to advance a particular unmanned aviation category, Nevada is the place to come.”

Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Find @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

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