Australian startup Flirtey trialled search and delivery drones in New Zealand

Image: Flirtey drone delivering supplies.

Australian commercial drone startup Flirtey partnered with New Zealand Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) to test whether drones can search for missing people and deliver emergency supplies.

The trials, held last weekend, were part of a new pro bono arrangement between Flirtey and NZ’s largest online marketplace, Trade Me.

Trade Me CEO Jon Macdonald says that while there’s lots of hype around drones and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), he thinks mass commercial drone delivery is still a long way off.

However, Macdonald believes the LandSAR trials were an interesting experiment and “the chance to make a practical difference in areas like search and rescue work feels like it could be much closer.”

Mike Ambrose, group support officer, LandSAR said his team was impressed with the image quality that was captured and “were in no doubt” that “durable, reliable and well directed” drone technology has the potential to find people quickly.

“The ability to deliver packages (such as a 2-way radio) to parties that have been located is another exciting possibility,” he said.

Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny said: “Flirtey has already secured country-wide insurance coverage for drone delivery operations, logged flights on the Airshare hub for drone operators to ensure a safer airspace for everyone, successfully demonstrated our drone delivery technology, and received the support of key commercial partners and the US Consulate’ commercial service.”

Watch the drone delivering medical supplies near Lake Roxburgh on NZ’s South Island below.

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