7-11 Beats Amazon And GoogleTo First Commercial Drone Delivery

By Magic Man , Updated Dec 21, 2016 11:41 AM EST

7-11, the world's largest chain of convenience stores, beats out Amazon and Alphabet Project, in pioneering drone delivery to customers. A total of 77 customers in Reno, Nevada, received new items they ordered from the store and it was delivered to their doorsteps by drones.

All 77 flights originated from one store to a dozen selected customers located within one mile of the shop. 7-11 partnered with drone maker Flirtey for the delivery test project. This marks the first time that a regular commercial drone delivery service will operate in the United States. The convenience store was the first to launch a drone and beat Alphabet's Project Wing and Amazon's Prime Air.

Amazon's projected drone delivery was in the UK countryside while 7-11's drone delivery was in Reno, a populated urban and suburban area, which presents a bevy of complicated challenges. It is worth noting that the current partnership between 7-11 and Flirtey was not the first. They also partnered in July when customer's order of chicken sandwich, donuts, candy, Slurpee, and hot coffee were delivered by a drone.

For the latest flight, customers ordered food and beverage as well as over-the-counter medicines. Using GPS, the drones locate a customer's house where they would not land but simply hover near the ground before dropping the package. According to Flirtey, delivery time was less than ten minutes after placement of order.

Deliveries were completed, on average, less than ten minutes after the order was placed, according to a statement from Flirtey.

As it is still illegal to fly drones in the United States outside of the line of sight of the operator without special permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), all deliveries were done with the line of sight of the drone pilot but the drones flew independently.

Project Wing completed its pilot delivery last September delivering Chipotle burritos to students at Virginia Tech. However, it was a one-off trial and not a run of 77 drone deliveries within a month, such as the partnership between Flirtey and 7-11.

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