When you think of cutting edge business to consumer technology, you think of the big players like Google, Amazon, Samsung, Apple or Microsoft. You aren’t so quick to put 7-Eleven on your list. If someone was going to start making deliveries by RC Drone, you’d expect it to be one or more of those big boys. You wouldn’t expect the first successful drone deliveries to consumers to be made by a convenience store. But that’s exactly what happened.
That’s right, 7-Eleven overcame all troubles of the big city and manages to pull off the first consumer drone delivery. This accomplishment was made in Reno, Nevada . The method is quite simple – the drones seek for locations using GPS and arrive at intended places. Once the drones are low enough, the customer can take the package.
The future for this type of customer service is bright. However, a new type of regulations is required, so that everything could work properly. Current laws in the USA forbid drones to fly out of sight of the pilot. For that, people have to get a corresponding permission. Therefore, all 7-Elevenn tests and the mentioned deliveries were made in the one-mile radius. Once FAA and NASA negotiate on these matters, drones could be able to travel for longer distances, maybe, even neighbouring cities.
Flirtey and 7-Eleven seem to have worked around these regulations by ensuring that the deliveries were always within a one mile radius. “There was a Flirtey operator in the loop to take over if ever needed, but it wasn’t necessary,” said Matthew Sweeney, Flirtey CEO. The project also used a specially designed shopping app that tracked the order from preparation to delivery. Sweeney said orders, which consisted of food, beverages and over-the-counter medicines, took less than 10 minutes on average.
The drones found their intended location using GPS. Once at their destination, the drones hovered a short distance above the ground, then lowered the packages.
For drone deliveries to work on a larger scale, as well as other drone applications, the FAA and NASA recognize that there needs to be new regulations and some kind of low-altitude air traffic control system in place. This would allow drones to fly autonomously over longer distances, without the pilot needing to be within line of sight. To accomplish this, both organizations conducted tests in Reno in October 2016, although this is just one small step in a huge project.
In December, Amazon completed its own drone delivery trial. It chose to conduct its test in the United Kingdom, in a rural spot in Cambridge, to be precise. It took just 13 minutes from the time the customer placed the order to delivery, which is pretty impressive without the assistance of a human pilot.
Amazon announced last week that it had made its first drone delivery in rural England. The Seattle company is taking it slow with its drone ambitions and has said that it will expand the experiment to “dozens of customers” in the coming weeks.
If all conditions are set up, drone deliveries can create a whole network around the USA. And we’re not talking just customer service – drones can be extremely helpful for delivering packages to areas which aren’t accessible by any other way.