Drones may be delivering the mail in the U.S. someday sooner, rather than later, thanks to new rules introduced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The FAA will begin delivering medical necessities to a clinic in West Virginia on July 17th, in the very first legal delivery made by a drone in the U.S. Flirtey, the self proclaimed “world's first autonomous aerial delivery company,” will be the test partner.
Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny said, “This is a Kitty Hawk moment not just for Flirtey, but for the entire industry. Proving that unmanned aircraft can deliver life-saving medicines is an important step toward a future where unmanned aircraft make routine autonomous deliveries of your everyday purchases.”
The test is being made possible by NASA, Flirtey, and Virginia Tech. during an event called “Let’s Fly Wisely,” in Wise Virginia. Six locations, including Virginia Tech, were given approval by the FAA to research implementing drones in U.S. airspace with tests like this flight.
Flirtey’s drones will carry up to 24 ten-pound parcels of medication from Lonesome Pine Airport to the clinic in Wise County Fairgrounds. NASA will send the first shipment with a fixed-wing, and then the drones will do the rest. There should be an estimated 1,500 people at the free clinic who need care.
The drone’s delivery to a free clinic means the days when drones drop the mail on the neighbor’s doorstep could be near.