Sydney-founded drone startup Flirtey is set to take a permanent place in history, announcing it’s been accepted into the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in the US. The startup’s six-rotor urban drone will be featured among some of aviation’s most notable artefacts, including the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Wright Flyer, the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft.
Through participation with NASA’s Langley Research Centre, Virginia Tech and Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnerships, Flirtey has showcased the commercial potential of drone delivery not only in the US, but around the world.
Matt Sweeny, Flirtey CEO said, “With Flirtey’s leadership, the enormous potential and inevitability of delivery by drone is clear. Flirtey is proud to be a part of the Smithsonian’s unequaled aviation collection.”
Flirtey will be put on exhibit after its preparation for long-term display by museum collection specialists. The drones exhibition will be used to draw both the industry’s and public’s attention to the capabilities that autonomous aircrafts offer to urban delivery services.
Cofounder of Flirtey Tom Bass said the drone’s showcase in the museum is a tremendous milestone for its team.
“When drones are as commonplace as mail trucks, delivering anything you desire, people will look back at this as where it all began and be inspired to realize the next great chapters in our dreams of flight,” he said.
Last month Flirtey made history in conducting the first ever fully autonomous FAA-approved (Federal Aviation Administration) urban drone delivery in the US. The drone delivered a package containing bottled water, emergency food, and a first aid kit to a “residential setting” in the town of Hawthorne, Virginia.
Flirtey’s delivery system works by lowering a package in a controlled manner while the drone hovers in place. Built-in delivery systems such as an automatic return-to-safe-location feature ensures the recovery of the drone in case of low battery, communication loss or low GPS signal.
The achievements of Flirtey in the US come as various states look to create a friendly regulatory environment for drone technology. In 2014, the Nevada government’s Office of Economic Development Knowledge Fund gave $3 million in funding to the University of Nevada in Reno to establish the Nevada Advanced Systems Innovation Centre (NAASIC), with the goal to support innovation in the autonomous systems market through partnerships with industry and educational programs in schools.
The Centre has been supported by the appointment of Nevada as one of six sites for the testing of UAVs in 2013, with construction on a ‘Droneport’ in Boulder City beginning last December. A partner of the test site, Flirtey has been working with NAASIC and the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) to evolve its technology, while it is also a NASA partner for the state of Nevada.
Brian Sandoval, Governor of Nevada has said, “The Knowledge Fund has been a successful tool to draw the industry’s attention to our capabilities, and Flirtey’s relocation to Nevada is an important step in this process. I welcome Flirtey to the New Nevada, and look forward to watching them succeed.”
Flirtey is also continuing its collaboration with the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, the Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership and the NASA Langley Research Centre, among others.
An expansion of its delivery service in the US is underway to position Flirtey and its partners as the leading technology and logistics systems for a mass-market drone delivery service.
Image: Matt Sweeny. Source: Supplied.