7-Eleven, Amazon UK test drone deliveries

On opposite sides of the Atlantic, two major global retailers are testing delivery by drone.

In the UK, eCommerce giant Amazon has partnered with the government to test some aspects of its drone delivery parameters.

And in the US, 7-Eleven has partnered with Flirtey, an independent drone delivery service, to complete the first fully autonomous delivery to a customer’s residence to advance research toward integrating drones into the US national airspace system.

The Amazon tests include piloting the machines beyond the line of sight of its operators, testing sensor performance to make sure the drones can identify and avoid obstacles and flights where one person operates multiple highly-automated drones are to begin immediately with the support of the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Amazon drone

“The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation; we’ve been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time,” said Paul Misener, Amazon’s VP of Global Innovation Policy and Communications.

“This announcement strengthens our partnership with the UK and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the UK and elsewhere around the world.”

Amazon’s Prime Air is a future delivery system designed to safely get packages up to 2.5kg to customers in 30 minutes or less using small drones.

Amazon and the UK government said the partnership will enable them to understand how drones can be used safely and reliably in the logistics industry. It will also help identify what operating rules and safety regulations will be needed to help move the drone industry forward.

“Using small drones for the delivery of parcels will improve customer experience, create new jobs in a rapidly growing industry, and pioneer new sustainable delivery methods to meet future demand,” said Misener.

“The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society.”

Meanwhile, in Reno

Meanwhile, at a Reno, Nevada 7‑Eleven store, two deliveries were successfully completed.

The 7-Eleven drone delivery is the first time a US customer has received a package in their home via drone. The delivery coincides with the celebration of the convenience store chain’s 89th birthday.

“This delivery required special flight planning, risk analysis, and detailed flight procedures ensuring residential safety and privacy were equally integrated,” said Chris Walach, director of operations for Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS).

7‑Eleven merchandise – including hot and cold food items – were loaded into a unique Flirtey drone delivery container and flown autonomously using precision GPS to a local customer’s house. Once at the family’s backyard, the Flirtey drone hovered in place and gently lowered each package.

The purchases were delivered to the family in the span of a few minutes. Products included Slurpee drinks, a chicken sandwich, donuts, hot coffee and 7-Select candy.

In the future, both companies expect drone packages to include “everyday essentials” such as batteries and sunscreen.

The deliveries also mark Flirtey’s largest commercial relationship to date and bring the drone delivery startup even closer to its vision of reinventing the delivery process for humanitarian, online retail and food delivery industries.

Building on this initial collaboration, the two companies have plans to expand drone delivery tests and work closely together, according to 7‑Eleven EVP and chief merchandising officer Jesus Delgado-Jenkins.

“Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience. This delivery marks the first time a retailer has worked with a drone delivery company to transport immediate consumables from store to home. In the future, we plan to make the entire assortment in our stores available for delivery to customers in minutes,” he said.


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