Drone-nuts, anyone?

EC: First 7-Eleven Drone Delivery Means Airdropped Doughnuts Are Incoming
Credit: Image by Artpartner Images via Getty Images

Tell Homer Simpson to keep an eye on the sky: the first 7-Eleven drone delivery took place this weekend in Reno, NV. The chain partnered up with Flirtey, a drone delivery startup, to send an order to one nearby customer (known only as “Michael” according to Fortune) via the skies. This marks the first 7-Eleven drone delivery, let alone any commercial delivery by drone, in US history.

The 7-Eleven drone team (yes, it took two drones to pull this off) flew from the nearby convenience store through a commercial neighborhood, delivering the goods via a rope as the drones hovered overhead. As for the order itself? One chicken sandwich, assorted candy, hot coffee, and—of course—doughnuts.

To pull off the delivery, 7-Eleven and Flirtey paired up with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, a government-funded nonprofit that helped coordinate the flightpath, airspace clearance, and technical details ahead of the trip. Chris Walach, NIAS director of operations, said, “This delivery required special flight planning, risk analysis, and detailed flight procedures ensuring residential safety and privacy were equally integrated.”

And he’s not exaggerating. The Federal Aviation Administration released new commercial drone rules in June (which are set to take effect this August), which would limit 7-Eleven drone deliveries, plus those by other retail giants like Amazon, to daylight hours only. Plus, the drones themselves cannot be out of sight of their operators, which makes the logistics of long-haul drone delivery flights more challenging.

But the relatively short, single-mile flight taken by the 7-Eleven drone made for an easy test run of what could become a new offering. Company officials said that they are working with Flirtey for future drone deliveries, but didn't specify when, where, and how these flights might take shape.

“The convenience of having access to instant, 24/7 drone delivery is priceless. It’s amazing that a flying robot just delivered us food and drinks in a matter of minutes,” Michael said.

As for whether or not 7-Eleven drone deliveries might include Slurpee brunch cocktails in the future, however, there is much less certainty. Still, one can dream.