By Ben Meyer / www.americanshipper.com / July 26th, 2016
The world’s largest convenience store chain teamed up with independent drone delivery service Flirtey and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems to conduct the first fully autonomous aircraft delivery to a U.S. customer.
7‑Eleven teamed up with independent drone delivery service Flirtey and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) to conduct the first fully autonomous aircraft delivery to be approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the companies said in a statement.
The delivery, which consisted of the convenience store chain’s signature Slurpee drinks, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and 7-Select candy, represents the first time a U.S. customer has received a package to their home via drone.
The items were loaded into a specialized Flirtey drone delivery container and flown autonomously using GPS coordination to the backyard customer’s house, where it hovered in place and lowered the packages. The companies said in the future, they expect drone package deliveries to include “everyday essentials” like batteries and sunscreen.
“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,” said Reno resident Michael, who received the initial delivery. “It’s amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes.”
“This delivery required special flight planning, risk analysis, and detailed flight procedures ensuring residential safety and privacy were equally integrated,” NIAS Director of Operations Chris Walach said of the project.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have 7‑Eleven, the largest convenience chain in the world, embracing new technologies and working with us at Flirtey to make drone delivery a reality for customers all over the world,” added Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny. “This is just the first step in our collaboration with 7‑Eleven. Flirtey’s historic drone deliveries to date have been stepping stones to store-to-home drone delivery, and today is a giant leap toward a not-too-distant future where we are delivering you convenience on demand.”
The companies plan to expand joint testing of the drone delivery service, said 7‑Eleven EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer Jesus H. Delgado-Jenkins.
“Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience,” said Delgado-Jenkins. “This delivery marks the first time a retailer has worked with a drone delivery company to transport immediate consumables from store to home.
“In the future, we plan to make the entire assortment in our stores available for delivery to customers in minutes,” he added. “Our customers have demanding schedules, are on-the-go 24/7 and turn to us to help navigate the challenges of their daily lives. We look forward to working with Flirtey to deliver to our customers exactly what they need, whenever and wherever they need it.”
The partnership with 7-Eleven is Flirtey’s largest commercial relationship to date, and the drone delivery startup ultimately is looking to expand the process throughout humanitarian, online retail and food delivery industries.
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