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Reno Makes History As Site Of First Drone-Delivered Slurpee

Flirtey, 7-Eleven

A Nevada-based drone startup has teamed up with convenience chain 7-Eleven to make the first-ever Slurpee delivery to a private residence in Reno, a tasty milestone for unmanned autonomous systems.

Drone company Flirtey delivered Slurpees, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and candy to a home in southeast Reno earlier this month, according to a joint press release from the two companies. 

The goods were flown from a 7-Eleven store to the customer's house, about a mile in distance. 

Chris Walach, director of the Nevada Institute of Autonomous System, helped coordinate the flight.

"The unmanned aerial system launched on its own, flew the route and came to a point above the resident’s house and delivered the package…and it returned on its own as well,” says Walach.

The entire delivery took about 12 minutes from start to finish. Walach says companies such as Amazon have made it clear that this type of urban package delivery will eventually become the norm. 

"The future vision is to do these over longer range distances," says Walach. "Doing multiple deliveries simultaneously. This was really the first step under what we were authorized by the FAA. Moving forward, the entire industry is looking toward what is called beyond visual line-of-sight operations, and I think this went a long way to move in that direction."

It wasn't the first milestone for Flirtey, which previously flew emergency supplies to a home in Hawthorne, Nevada, and completed the first shore-to-ship delivery last month.

Walach says the delivery bolsters Nevada's role as a leading FAA-test site for drone research and development.

“We like to really push the envelope on what we’re doing here under the FAA’s rules and regulations,” says Walach. “For those companies out there, small or large, that desire to test package delivery, we believe Nevada is the place to do that testing and developing.”

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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