Watch: Flirtey Completes Historic Ship-to-Shore Drone Delivery

Flirtey successfully completed the first ship-to-shore drone delivery in the U.S., delivering medical supplies from a vessel to an onshore medical camp in Cape May, New Jersey.

Congrats to Flirtey for once again making history on the drone delivery front. The Nevada-based startup successfully completed the first ship-to-shore drone delivery in the U.S.

Flirtey drones carried medical samples between an onshore medical relief camp at Cape May in New Jersey and a test facility on a vessel stationed off the coast. In a round trip, Flirtey drones then delivered medical supplies from the vessel to the onshore medical camp.

On the first leg, Johns Hopkins loaded Flirtey’s drones on shore with stool, blood and urine samples, and Flirtey delivered these to the ship. On the second leg, Flirtey’s delivery drone landed on a barge on turbulent seas and was loaded with medical supplies, including water purification tablets, insulin and a first aid kit, and delivered these ship-to-shore to representatives from the United Nations and the American Red Cross.

Flirtey, which conducted the test flights with Dr. Timothy Amukele, assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said drone deliveries could provide life-saving aid to victims of natural disasters, especially along coastlines when road systems are damaged.

“Imagine a future where in the event of a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy, Flirtey drones rapidly deliver emergency medical supplies, food and water,” said Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeny. “During Hurricane Sandy more than 1.4 million liters of water, 1.6 million meals, and 1 million fliers were delivered by first responders. Imagine how much faster and further these life saving resources could be delivered by drone. This demonstration is helping to make that future a reality, and taking us one step closer to Flirtey’s mission to save lives and change lifestyles.”

According to the United Nations, 8 of the 10 largest cities in the world are coastal cities, and more than three billion people (44% of the world’s population) live within 95 miles of the coast.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to provide urgent aid and advanced diagnosis tools into a disaster zone with interoperability with key government relief assets,” said Flirtey co-founder Tom Bass.

In the video above, Sweeny said this “ship-to-shore drone delivery is just the first of millions of drone deliveries that will take place all across the United States in years to come.” He’s probably right, we just don’t know when drone delivery will be cleared for take-off in the US. The FAA recently released its rules for small commercial drones, and the regulations require that commercial drones can’t don’t fly further away than the operator can see. This would certainly limit how far the delivery drones could be flown.

Flirtey responded to the regulations by voicing its concerns that the US isn’t keeping pace with our countries when it comes to drones.

“This is a step in the right direction for the industry and a signal that the FAA is listening to the public demand for thoughtful and progressive drone regulation. It, however, is only one step. As a company that worked with the FAA to conduct the first FAA-approved drone delivery and the first fully autonomous drone delivery in an urban setting, we know that safety can be balanced with more progressive rules that allow drone companies like ours to transform humanitarian response, delivery systems and logistics networks.

“Flirtey looks forward to continuing our work with [the FAA] to create world-leading, safe and progressive regulation that builds the framework for drones to fly over people and beyond line of sight in order to keep pace with the rapidly advancing drone industry. The FAA should create these regulations for a tier of companies with the strongest track records - differentiating between the commercial drone companies applying the most stringent safety standards and the best technology to drone operations to save lives and change lifestyles. Countries like New Zealand are currently leading the charge in creating risk-based regulations for commercial drone applications, and the FAA must move quickly to assure the U.S. does not fall behind in the rapidly advancing global growth of drones.”

According to industry estimates, the new regulations could generate more than $82 billion for the economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.

Flirtey also completed both the first FAA-approved drone delivery and first FAA-approved urban drone delivery in US history. Flirtey donated its six-rotor delivery drone to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum to commemorate these historic events.

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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Robot Fun · Drones · News · Media · Videos · Drone Delivery · Flirtey · All Topics

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