Fairfax City launching drone program to connect businesses and customers

Fairfax City is set to launch a new service that is revolutionizing deliveries across the country.

The city is using drones to connect businesses and customers while practicing social distancing.

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"We started this a year ago at George Mason University, now we're at different campuses around the country, and in different neighborhoods," said Juan Canahui, Starship Technologies launch manager.

Starship can cross streets, climb curbs, travel at night and operate in both rain and snow, and has 10 built in cameras.

"It senses obstacles, people, sidewalks. If there's a car coming it's not gonna cross the street because it can actually recognize the car and wait until the coast is clear to cross," said Canahui.

And now, using the Starship Deliveries app, 20 of these drones will soon be cruising through Fairfax city, delivering groceries and food from participating restaurants forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic, including Coyote Grille on Main Street.


"We've never experienced anything like this in our lifetime and we have to get creative and figure out new ways of doing things," said Tatjana Farr,Coyote Grill owner.

"This cuts down on the number of contacts you have to do for a delivery, and we wipe down the robot after every delivery," said Canahui.

Chris Harte and his daughter came in to pick up a take out order, but we're left in awe.

"Even us coming here it was that feeling that maybe I'm risking something, and if that reduces that risk using the restaurant... then it's better for the restaurant and better for the patrons," said Harte.

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For now, the drones will service a limited area, a one mile radius from downtown Fairfax, with a delivery window of 15-45 min.

"We'll be watching this and making sure it's safe for a residence bicyclist and motor us as well," said Chris Bruno, Fairfax City Economic development director.

"A lot of people are putting themselves at risk, delivery workers, healthcare workers and if we can do anything we can do to eliminate that contact and help flatten the curb, then I'm all for it," said Helena Harte.

Using Starship is easy: download the Starship Deliveries app on your Android or Apple device, confirm your address is in the delivery zone, and choose from the current list of participating businesses.

The service starts Friday at 8am, you can order till 930pm. Participating Restaurants include Havabite Eatery, Coyote Grille, Hamrock's Restaurant, The Wine House, High Side, and Essential Groceries (rebranded safeway) with more launching soon.