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A drone flew 97 continuous miles to complete one of the longest drone deliveries in the U.S.

It flew for more than two hours.

A drone flew a total of 97 miles to and from Austin, Texas, last week to complete one of longest drone deliveries yet in the United States, ferrying a four-pound package with a machine part. The drone flew a set route over various Texas farm roads before reversing course to finally deliver the package to a person inside Austin’s city limits.

The flight, which lasted a little over two hours, was completed by a group that has been flying drones in the Federal Aviation Administration-designated Nevada drone test site, with support from three different drone service companies and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Although the drone flew autonomously, observers were positioned along the route throughout the entire operation in order to keep the aircraft within line of sight, which is currently required by the FAA.

Drone delivery in the U.S. won’t make sense as a business until the FAA crafts rules for flying beyond line of sight, since the point of delivery by drone is that a human won’t be there. But that could take years. Still, this is a sign of what’s likely to come.

drone with package
The drone and its payload, grounded
Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems

The FAA has said that one of the next set of problems it plans to tackle for drone regulations will be to craft a way for unmanned aircraft to be remotely identified. This will help law enforcement know who is flying a drone, even if the pilot isn’t visible.

The drone that flew this particular mission was a fixed-wing aircraft, meaning it didn’t have rotors like a quadcopter. To communicate with operators on the ground, the drone had a cellular chip mounted inside its body, which allowed it to connect back to the ground using existing cell tower infrastructure. The group reported it experienced no gaps in connection during the flight.

The drone flew continuously, without needing to recharge or refuel. Powered by a combination of batteries and gas, the drone stopped only to deliver the package before vertically taking off again to head back to finish its mission in Austin.

This article originally appeared on

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