The drone landed with the help of a target placed on the ground to guide the crafts sensors to a safe touchdown zone. Drones could play a key role in helping Amazon manage costs while quickly delivering online orders. The company has expanded its Prime Now service, which delivers tens of thousands of products commonly found in convenience and drug stores in as little as an hour, to combine the ease of online shopping with the instant gratification of getting goods at a store. Amazons proposed use of drones may drive down the cost to deliver small packages crosstown to as little as $1, a fraction of existing same-day delivery options, according to a 2015 study by New York-based ARK Invest that tried to quantify the savings from the use of drones compared with delivery trucks and couriers. In the U.S., Amazon faces competition from startups like Flirtey, which in July made its own household delivery via drone from a 7-Eleven store in Reno, Nev. Flirtey co-founder and CEO Matt Sweeny envisions customers paying a fee of about $10 for the convenience of quick drone delivery, and is experimenting with the convenience store chain on delivering over-the-counter medication, which could appeal to parents of sick children. Project Wing, a unit of Alphabet, which also owns Google, experimented with dropping off burritos to students and other test subjects last September at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. All these tests were effectively simulations of how deliveries would work and not the fully automated robotic flights the companies hope will eventually become routine. While routine commercial drones flights have been approved in the U.S., theyre not allowed over people and must stay within sight of an operator on the ground.
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