(Photo Credit: Flirtey via AP) Back in February, we blogged about the first FAA-sanctioned drone delivery in a rural area completed by startup Flirtey. The drop used KDE Direct motors and the drone will soon be on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum alongside some of aviation's most notable artifacts. Flirtey continues to take innovative steps in the realm of drone delivery. On March 10, Flirtey performed the first FAA-sanctioned urban drone delivery.
Back in December of 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that the Internet retail giant had plans for a drone delivery service. Flirtey beat Amazon to the first FAA-sanctioned drone delivery, both in general and in urban and rural settings. Flirtey now paves the way for urban drone delivery, bringing them one step closer to regular deliveries in the United States.
Not only are Flirtey’s first rural and urban drone deliveries big steps for the industry itself, their drones are outfitted with KDE Direct motors. KDE is excited to be included in the monumental steps Flirtey is taking towards autonomous drone delivery in the United States.
Flirtey’s First Urban Drone Delivery
For the first urban drone delivery, Flirtey sent an autonomous hexacopter on a pre-programmed half-mile flight to an empty house in Hawthorne, Nevada. The payload included food, water and a first-aid kit in a box attached to the drone by rope. The drone itself flew without any intervention from humans, though there was a pilot on standby just in case assistance was needed. The hexacopter route was programmed using GPS and when it arrived at the residence, the package was lowered.
Moving forward, NASA, the FAA and the drone industry are working together to create a low-altitude air traffic control system in order to prevent crashes involving drones and other low-flying aircrafts. Nevada is one of the six states the FAA has designed as unmanned aircraft systems test sites. Flirtey recently moved its headquarters from Australia to Nevada.
This first instance of urban drone delivery demonstrates that unmanned aircrafts can safely navigate around buildings and obstacles to deliver packages within a populated area. Flirtey was able to convince the FAA to allow this first flight due to their experience delivering textbooks and car parts in Australia and New Zealand.
Going Down in History
Even more recent big news for Flirtey - the company's six-rotor urban drone will be featured among some the aviation's most notable artifacts at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Flirtey's inclusion in the historical collection recognizes the commercial potential of drone delivery all over the world. The drone on display includes KDE Direct motors, which is an exciting and humbling feeling to be a part of aviation history.
Up next for Flirtey? Another FAA-sanctioned flight in an urban populated area, which will hopefully bring them closer to actual urban drone delivery in the United States. Here at KDE, we’re happy to see our motors being used to advance the drone delivery industry through the work of Flirtey and many others.