What is drone delivery?
Why is the town government interested in this program?
Will the drones have cameras?
What safety measures are included on the drones?
How will the drone deliveries work?
Where will the drones be flying – over my house, all over town?
How loud will the drones be?
When are drone deliveries expected to begin?
What entities are partners in evaluating drone deliveries?
Click here to download additional FAQs from the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program.
Drone delivery is the transportation of goods using unmanned aerial vehicles. Delivery drones fly automatically along predetermined routes to predetermined delivery locations. Packages are lowered from the drone and released on the ground.
Drones offer the potential to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, thus mitigating traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Drone delivery replaces a 2-ton vehicle driving on the road with an electric-powered 35-pound vehicle. This pilot program provides the Federal Aviation Administration, N.C. Department of Transportation and Town of Holly Springs an opportunity to assess how drones might play a role in our innovative economy.
We understand people are concerned about privacy. The drones will not carry any cameras. They navigate using GPS (global positioning system) technology.
As an added safety measure, all Flytrex drones will be equipped with redundant engines in the unlikely case of mechanical failure.
The industrial grade drones include multiple redundancies: six motors, six rotors, six batteries and three GPS devices for redundant communication. A preflight checklist assesses the weather and the drone equipment. Flytrex plans to maximize safety by not flying over large crowds of people, or over backyards, during initial stages. Each drone will be fitted with a parachute system that would cut power to propellers and emit loud beeping sounds if the system is needed.
Initially, all flight routes will be within line-of-sight of the remote pilot at the take-off location at Holly Springs Towne Center. The route to a delivery location at Ting Park will not allow drones to fly above houses. Drones will fly over open spaces and woods, and over the NC 55 bypass, if approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The amount of time a drone would be over the bypass during its route would be limited to a couple of seconds.
The delivery location at Ting Park will be across the park road from the tennis courts. A fence will enclose the delivery location, which will be monitored by a Flytrex employee.
After the restaurant receives an order from a customer, a Flytrex representative on site loads a food package of up to 6 pounds and selects the delivery location and route in the Flytrex operations platform. The drone takes off and travels the short distance to the predetermined, approved area in the neighborhood nearby.
Meanwhile, a phone app provides the customer with the status of the order. The drone arrives at the delivery spot and remains airborne for 1.5 minutes, awaiting confirmation that the customer is in position nearby. Once a customer confirms he/she is ready for delivery, the drone lowers the food package by wire to the ground and releases it to the waiting customer.
Initially, all flight routes will be within line-of-sight of the remote pilot at the take-off location at Holly Springs Towne Center. The route to a delivery location at Ting Park will not allow drones to fly above houses. Drones will fly over open spaces and woods, and over the NC 55 bypass, if approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The amount of time a drone would be over the bypass during its route would be limited to a couple of seconds. Only one drone would be flying at a time.
Upon successful evaluation of this initial phase, Flytrex may expand flight routes and delivery locations.
The noise from these drones in flight will be about as loud as a running dishwasher. When drones are landing, the noise will be comparable to a car passing by from about 30 feet away.
Drones will fly about 220 feet above ground and make deliveries from about 70 feet above ground, further reducing any noise.
Drone deliveries could begin, at the earliest, in October, depending on FAA approvals.
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): responsible for the safe operation of the national air space and understands the benefits that drones pose. The goal of the pilot program is to analyze how to safely incorporate drones into the National Air Space over a three-year period. The FAA oversees the pilot program and selected the NCDOT (and Holly Springs) as a participant in the program. The FAA received over 150 applications for the program and selected 10 locations. The agency has final say in all operations occurring with the program and considers safety the most important part of the program.
- North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT): the team leader; interfaces directly with the FAA. NCDOT’s Division of Aviation operates an unmanned aerial vehicle team that works with and promotes the use of drones statewide. The NCDOT has oversight of commercial and government drone operations within the state.
- Flytrex: a technology company that has developed a system that allows drones to be used for package deliveries. The drones operate within the Flytrex navigational system that creates "roadways in the sky" where the drones are confined. Flytrex delivery drones have been in use in Iceland for about a year and have had no incidents to date while performing deliveries around the capital city of Reykjavik.
- Causey Aviation: in charge of the operations and "piloting" the drones. Causey Aviation is based out of North Carolina and has been in the Aviation business for decades. Its personnel are familiar with the FAA's safety protocols and rigorous maintenance and operational procedures.
- Town of Holly Springs: host for the project and working with all of the partners above to ensure our residents are informed of the pilot project and have an opportunity to provide input to the partners.