The 7-Eleven convenience store chain has just shed some new details on its drone delivery project, and apparently, 77 customers in Nevada have now received drone-delivered items from 7-Eleven to their doorsteps.
The company has been testing drone flights from a store in Reno. Roughly a dozen select customers within a mile of the shop have had their goods dropped off via drones, which are from 7-Eleven's partner, drone maker Flirtey. The delivery pilot marks the first regular commercial drone delivery service to operate in the US. Keep in mind the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s initial drone regulations essentially prohibited commercial drone deliveries, because they said drones must stay within a pilot's line of sight and cannot fly directly over people.
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But the FAA has been working with private companies to develop broader rules. In September, for instance, UPS announced it started testing the use of drones for urgent deliveries in hard-to-reach areas in the US. Still, 7-Eleven has beat Alphabet’s Project Wing and Amazon’s Prime Air to the punch when it comes to regular commercial drone deliveries, though Amazon recently demonstrated its first delivery to a customer in the UK. In July, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) provided Amazon with permission to test drone operations in rural and suburban areas.
While Amazon’s drone delivery was held in the UK countryside, the 7-Eleven drone delivery pilot was held in November in populated urban and suburban areas. Customers ordered food and beverages and over-the-counter medicines. The drones used a GPS system to locate the customer’s house and lowered the packages to the ground. Deliveries were completed within 10 minutes after the orders were placed, Recode said.
Per regulations, all the deliveries happened within the line of sight of the drone pilot, but the drones flew autonomously. In October, NASA and the FAA conducted tests in Reno to research a low-altitude air traffic control system that allowed pilots to watch their drones in the air the entire time. Air traffic control for drones will be a major component of drone delivery in the US before they roll out on a larger scale.
Project Wing once held an one-off trial in the US, where a single drone completed a delivery test. 7-Eleven's is more significant because it included 77 drone deliveries over a month period.