For quite some time, Amazon and other major companies like Google have been looking to begin executing drone deliveries. Amazon has been extremely proactive in the quest for approval but faced challenges with getting approval from the Federal Airlines Administration.
7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store chain, released new numbers from its drone delivery test today. 77 customers in Reno, Nevada have now had items they ordered from 7-Eleven delivered directly to their doorsteps via drone. All 77 flights were from one store to customers living within one mile of that same store. To make this test possible, 7-Eleven partnered with drone maker Flirtey to run a pilot test program.
This success marks the first regular commercial drone delivery service to operate in the United States. In fact, this means 7-Eleven beat much larger drone delivery projects that have not yet been able to gain traction in the U.S. like Alphabet’s Project Wing and Amazon’s Prime Air, the latter of which only demonstrated its first delivery to a customer last week. Amazon’s delivery test took place in the United Kingdom’s countryside. On the other hand, 7-Eleven’s was held right in Reno, Nevada: a populated urban area with more complex challenges.
7-Eleven and Flirtey claim this is the first time a drone has delivered a package to a U.S. resident who placed an order through a retailer. Deliveries have included items like chicken sandwiches, donuts, candy, Slurpees, and hot coffee. The drones use a GPS system to locate a customer’s house where they lower packages to the ground without ever actually landing. On average, deliveries have been completed within ten minutes after having an order placed.
If you’re wondering how 7-Eleven is managing this while Amazon and Google face road block after road block, the answer is simple. All of the deliveries have taken place within the line of sight of the drone pilot even though the drones are flying autonomously. Right now, it is not legal in America to fly a drone beyond the line of sight of the operator without special permission from the FAA. Since 7-Eleven deliveries are only available to homes within one mile of a given store, keeping an eye on the drones is simple. Compare that to how Amazon operates and you can quickly begin to see the challenges they face.
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