Home delivery services could be on the verge of stepping into a new era.
7-Eleven and Flirtey, an independent drone delivery service, have completed the first fully autonomous drone delivery to customers' residences. The successful venture marks a milestone in both U.S. and global commerce while also advancing research toward integrating drones into the National Airspace System.
The delivery was the first time a customer in the United States has received a package at home via drone. The occasion was conducted in celebration of 7-Eleven's 89th birthday, and came out of a Reno, Nev. store.
7-Eleven merchandise, including hot and cold food items, were loaded into a Flirtey drone delivery container and flown autonomously using precision GPS to two local customers' houses. Once in the backyard, the drone hovered in place and gently lowered each package.
The purchases were delivered in the span of a few minutes, and products included Slurpee drinks, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee, and 7-Select candy.
"My wife and I both work and have three small children ages seven, six and one. The convenience of having access to instant, 24/7 drone delivery is priceless," says Reno resident Michael, who received the Flirtey delivery. "It's amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes."
Both companies expect future drone packages to include everyday essentials like batteries and sunscreen.
For this particular delivery, Flirtey teamed with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) to ensure that the flight and delivery occurred smoothly.
"This delivery required special flight planning, risk analysis and detailed flight procedures ensuring residential safety and privacy were equally integrated," says Chris Walach, director of operations for NIAS.
The deliveries mark Flirtey's largest commercial relationship to date and bring the drone delivery startup one step closer to its vision of reinventing the delivery process for the humanitarian, online retail and food delivery industries.
"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," says 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."
Building on this collaboration, both companies plan to expand drone delivery tests and work closely together.
"Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience," says Jesus Delgado-Jenkins, e.v.p. and chief merchandising officer, 7-Eleven. "In the future, we plan to make the entire assortment in our stores available for delivery to customers in minutes. 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."
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval congratulated the Nevada-based Flirtey on making history through this collaboration.
"Through our FAA Test Site designation, Flirtey has cemented Nevada's position as the leader in the commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) industry and I look forward to seeing them continue to grow and bring jobs to our region," he says.