- Drone delivery firm Flirtey and a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine professor successfully sent a drone from a medical relief camp at Cape May to an off-coast vessel, and back again, Food Logistics reported last week.
- The event reportedly marked the first "ship-to-store" delivery within the U.S., as a Federal Aviation Administration rule earlier this year slowed testing within the U.S.
- The effort proved the value of drones during hurricanes or similar infrastructure shutdowns. Food, water, medicine, and even blood samples can be successfully sent to or from victims in need, particularly those along coastlines or other hard to reach locations.
Drone delivery within the U.S. has thus far been heavily regulated, causing a slow implementation of the technology within the U.S. due to concerns over safety, air traffic and privacy.
Yet various actors have shown the drone's potential benefits to various industries — mainly construction, healthcare and retail — as the technology offers quick and efficient access for the often complex last-mile delivery. In Rwanda, for example, UPS, Gavi and Zipline partnered to deliver vaccines to inaccessible regions by drone and last week Amazon took to the skies with its first commercial drone delivery, which took place in the U.K.
As the first successful autonomous home delivery in the U.S., the event could herald further tests and FAA-approvals. Unfortunately, as the FAA rarely keeps pace with technology, last-mile delivery solutions are likely to reach wide implementation abroad before drones take flight in the U.S.