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First fully autonomous urban drone delivery

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CIOL Writers
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Marking the first fully autonomous urban drone delivery in the US, a six-rotor unmanned aircraft delivered water, food and first-aid kit to a residential location in a Nevada town on 10th of March.

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Matt Sweeney, chief executive of drone-maker Flirtey, said the drone flew about a half-mile along a programmed delivery route using GPS and then let down the package outside a vacant residence in Hawthorne. There was a pilot and a few visual observers on standby as well but were not needed.

Sweeney hailed the urban delivery by drone as a “major achievement”, taking them closer to the day when drones will make regular deliveries to people’s doorstep. Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada also congratulated the company “on successfully completing the nation’s first fully autonomous urban package delivery”.

Drones Etc: Robotics and advanced technology may be in the testing phase (read Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, Singpost) and running its regulatory-nod course now, but the potential is as limitless as the risks.

The news however once again turned the spotlight on the safety concerns regarding possible collisions involving drones and other low-altitude aircraft. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) requires all drones weighing more than half a pound – 227g – to be registered and labelled with an FAA registration number.

Also, NASA is working with the drone industry and the FAA on a low-altitude air traffic control system to prevent such crashes. Nevada is one of six states the FAA has designated as unmanned aircraft systems test sites. The other names on the list are: University of Alaska (includes test ranges in Hawaii, Oregon, Kansas, and Tennessee), New York's Griffiss International Airport (includes test range locations in Massachusetts and Michigan), and North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (includes test ranges in New Jersey and Maryland).

The Nevada delivery demonstrates that advanced drone systems allow aerial vehicles to safely navigate around buildings and deliver packages with precision within a populated area, Sweeney said.

“This was by far one of the most successful operations we ran and represents an advanced level of test and development … by Flirtey,” said Chris Walach, director of operations for the FAA-designated Nevada site.

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