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In a world-first, a fully autonomous drone delivered a package to an urban destination outside Reno, Nevada. The drone flew above a stretch of residential houses before reaching its destination outside the city. There, it lowered the package outside as it was pre-programmed to do. The package included food, bottled water, and a first-aid kit.

“Conducting the first drone delivery in an urban setting is a major achievement, taking us closer to the day that drones make regular deliveries to your front doorstep,” said Matt Sweeney, CEO of Flirtey, the company behind the groundbreaking delivery.

The six-rotor drone flew some 800m using GPS to determine its route before arriving at the destination. A pilot and observers were present during the event to intervene in case of mishap.

This delivery demonstrates that unmanned and autonomous aerial systems can be safely used in built-up urban environments, Sweeney said, and paves the way to drone-deliveries in the near future.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval congratulated Flirtey “on successfully completing the nation’s first fully autonomous urban package delivery.”

“I am thrilled that Flirtey is not only testing its cutting-edge technology in Nevada, but also creating jobs through its headquarters relocation to Reno,” Sandoval said in reference to Flirtey’s recent move to Nevada from Australia.

To make this test flight possible, Flirtey partnered up with the Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorised and cooperated with the test flight, as well.

“This was by far one of the most successful (unmanned aircraft systems) operations we ran and represents an advanced level of test and development,” said Chris Walach, the FAA’s representative on-site.