The world was once scared of the idea of having airplanes in our skies. Most experts 30 years ago never thought that people would have personal computers within their homes. Today, when the idea of delivery drones is brought up, most people laugh, and say, “That will never happen,” or they are simply terrified by the idea.
We have news for you folks. It will happen and it already has. While you may laugh at the idea right now, and perhaps even hate it, we will one day think nothing of seeing dozens of drones flying overhead on any given day, most of which are delivering packages, medical supplies and perhaps even our groceries. When it was recently announced that Amazon was contemplating the use of drones for delivery of their packages, not very many people took them all that seriously. Next month though, those doubters will be forced to take a step back and realize that they are living in times where technology is rapidly advancing all areas of their lives.
Back in March, the partially 3D printed Flirtey delivery drone was put into action to deliver medical supplies to Land Search and Rescue. The New Zealand trial operation, which was sponsored by Trade Me, was deemed a success. Flirtey is an Australian startup that apparently is aiming quite large. Unlike Amazon, who is considering the use of drones to deliver retail goods to customers, Flirtey wants to take the technology even a few steps further by utilizing their drones for the delivery of humanitarian aid, food, and online retail, as well as a means for replacing and/or complementing traditional courier delivery.
Sure, this is all fine and dandy, but when will drone delivery actually be coming to the United States? Mark you calendars for July 17th, as the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will permit a collaboration between Flirtey, Virginia Tech, and NASA to fly unmanned aircraft in order to delivery pharmaceutical goods to a free medical clinic located in West Virginia. This means that the Flirtey drones will join NASA Langley’s fixed-wing aircraft as the world’s first autonomous aerial delivery service. Take that Amazon!
“This is a Kitty Hawk moment not just for Flirtey, but for the entire industry,” explained Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny. “Proving that unmanned aircraft can deliver life-saving medicines is an important step toward a future where unmanned aircraft make routine autonomous deliveries of your every day purchases.”
Made up of aluminum, carbon fiber and 3D printed parts, Flirtey is manufactured by the University of Nevada, Reno. To delivery objects to recipients, it travels up to 10 miles from its home location, and then proceeds to lower goods via an attached line. Once the object is released, the line is brought back up to the drone and it is ready to return to home base for the next assignment.
During this historic mission, the Flirtey drones will deliver up to 10 pounds of payload per assignment, and up to 24 packages of prescription medicine will be transported.
“This is the first step in proving that on demand drone delivery can revolutionise the way medical care can be delivered to remote communities, and eventually from your local pharmacy to your front door,” explained Flirtey Co-Founder Tom Bass. “This will be a game changer for millions in America.”
If all goes as planned, will this be the beginning of something quite significant? It very well may be. If the FAA is approving this flight, how soon until we begin to see companies like Amazon being permitted to deliver their products via drone? In the end, this can only mean faster deliveries, more affordable prices for consumers, and a sky full of robotic birds.
What do you think about this upcoming event? Will you be following it to see just how well it goes? How soon until drone deliveries become commonplace? Discuss in the Flirtey Drone Delivery forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the videos below.