Most companies will take any publicity they can get, but this press release from 7Eleven is one we think the world should be reading closely.
How many “Where were you when…?” moments have you experienced in your lifetime? Do you remember where you were when JFK got shot or what you were doing when they landed on the moon? Now we suggest you add this date, the 11th July 2016, to your list.
This is the day that 7Eleven successfully completed the world’s first fully autonomous (and legal) drone delivery to a customer’s residence.
Now we do recognize that it was done to advance the research of how drones could be integrated into the National Airspace System. And we also recognize that it was a well-planned exercise and was far from spontaneous.
But we can also recognize that this event is completely, outstandingly and outlandishly cool!!
We are all witnesses to the very first time that a U.S. customer received a package to their home via drone. Whatever your position on drones and the future might be, this is a historic milestone in U.S., and dare we venture, global commerce.
This was no abstract Hollywood invention. A real 7-Eleven customer in Reno, Nevada ordered Slurpees, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee, and candy and received it from a GPS-guided drone that had to fly about 1.6 kilometres to arrive at his home. One would have hoped that the order would have been a little healthier – but that’s America for you.
Not much was left to chance. There were special flight planning and risk analysis procedures ensuring nothing could go wrong. The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems worked hard to ensure residents were safe and privacy issues weren’t compromised.
In the interests of full disclosure, it did take two drone flights to deliver all of the items ordered. Not great if your salad arrives quickly, but you have to wait for another delivery to get your chicken…
Once the drone reached the house, it hovered in the air while lowering the container to the family’s backyard with the aid of a rope.
Michael, who got the goodies, said, “It’s amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes.”
This particular drone was manufactured by Flirtey, a drone startup, but many companies are exploring using drones for delivering packages. Google and Amazon are probably leading the way, but strict drone regulations have hampered testing and full-scale adoption.
The rules don’t allow drones to fly outside the line of sight of their operators nor can they be flown at night. These factors alone represent major hurdles that need to be overcome.
But we all know who wins when tired regulation comes up against mind-blowingly impressive technology.
Here’s looking forward to my future hamburger being dropped by drone express onto my balcony.
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