Flirtey is a tiny drone which recently completed the first ship to shore delivery, carrying a shipment of medicine to the land from a vessel sitting offshore. This marks the first time such a delivery, completed on the New Jersey shore has taken place via a drone.
Johns Hopkins pathologists first placed blood, urine, and stool samples onboard the drone, which was then sent to a testing facility on a floating vessel. After the aerial vehicle landed on the barge, the crew there unpackaged the cargo, and reloaded the drone with medical supplies, including a first aid kit, insulin, and water purification tablets.
Powered by six small chopper blades, the vehicle is composed of 3D printed components, put together with pieces made of other materials, including aluminum and carbon fiber.
Researchers at Flirtey hope their work will allow the development of drones capable of delivering medical goods to victims of disasters who cannot be reached by car, helicopter or ship docked on shore. Such vehicles could also carry a wide range of other supplies as well, even from marine vessels in choppy waters.
"As the premier independent drone delivery service in the world we are focused on changing consumer behavior, revolutionizing logistics and connecting communities with life-saving aid. By pioneering the best technology, safety systems and logistics networks we are showing that drone delivery is the safe, efficient and personalized delivery method that consumers and companies demand," Flirtey officials wrote on their Website.
This flight, conducted along the Delaware Bay in New Jersey, traveled over Cape May Canal on the way both from and to its land-based target at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal.
Deliveries by drones could soon become commonplace, as online retailer Amazon has announced they will soon be offering the service to their Prime customers.
Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new sets of guidelines regulating the flights of drone aircraft in the United States. That government agency approved of the Flirtey test flight.
"We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information, and deploy disaster relief," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The federal agency believes their new regulations covering drones could generate as much as $82 billion for the U.S. Economy over the next decade.
Flirtey executives tell the press that the Smithsonian Institution, which houses Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, has accepted their vehicle as an example of historic moments in flight.