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The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) has granted Matternet a certification allowing its delivery drones to fly autonomously over cities at any time of day or night. Clearing this regulatory hurdle means that by early next year, Matternet partner Swiss Post plans to use the drones to deliver blood samples and other small parcels between hospitals in Lugano, a smaller city with a population of about 56,000.

Matternet CEO and cofounder Andreas Raptopoulos said: “This is a big milestone for us. It means we can operate our technology throughout Switzerland. This will open a big opportunity in medical and e-commerce.” He emphasized that Matternet’s systems can be flown with the push of a button and are authorised to fly ‘beyond the line of sight’ in Switzerland.

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Drone delivery company Flirtey has announced it has successfully completed the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the United States. In an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nevada, the company says it successfully delivered a package that included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit by drone.

Research and development (R&D) is a major focus for the six FAA-designated Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Sites, and the Flirtey operation adds significant knowledge to this effort – specifically R&D for search and rescue and crisis response in disaster-prone areas.

The six-rotor drone flew itself along a pre-determined delivery route and lowered the package at a precise drop-off location. A Flirtey pilot and several visual observers were on standby during the delivery as a backup to the autonomous system, but were never needed.

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