Each year, more than 40 million people visit Las Vegas, Nevada. Between casinos, clubs, conventions, and entertainment for all ages, the City of Entertainment has something for everyone. The city has gained some famous tag lines like “What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas”. To earn its status as The Miracle in the Desert, Las Vegas has had to adopt the latest technologies available to keep people coming back. In 2014, a Las Vegas hotel found a way to elicit a sense of luxury for those who truly appreciate technology with the help of a drone.
Today the idea of having goods delivered by a drone is will soon be common as many cities throughout the world are developing drone delivery systems. But back in 2014, before logistical frameworks were in place for broad drone deliveries, it was still a novelty. The Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas decided to bank on the novelty of drones and use them to deliver drinks to guests. The hotel had purchased a drone to take promotional photographs as drone photography was an up and coming trend. Soon, the property’s co-owner Jason Strauss learned that the drone he had purchased could carry a payload of up to 8lbs. Knowing that pushing the edge in Las Vegas is the way to keep people enticed, he took a gamble and had a bucket attached to the bottom of the drone.
As Strauss knew the average bottle of champagne only weighs 4lbs, he was sure that the drone would be able to safely deliver poolside drinks to customers. Over Memorial Day weekend, Strauss debuted drone bottle service for guests partying at the hotel’s outside decks and cabanas. To be able to get this elite drone service, guests would have to cough up a rumored $20,000, though Strauss did say the price could fluctuate based on demand. It seemed that the high price and the novelty of being served by a drone was a huge pull. “The guests just went wild,” said Strauss. “The drone was the celebrity of the day.” Adding to the experience, the drone takes a few pictures of the guest getting the delivery as a keepsake, a win-win situation.
In 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was tasked with establishing testing sites for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to see that they could be safely integrated into National Airspace (NAS). By 2014, the FAA officially designated 6 test sites for drones, one of which was in Nevada. With their main office in Las Vegas, the State of Nevada’s UAS Test Site is operated by the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS). As stated on their website, “The NIAS mission is to coach, teach, and mentor public and commercial UAS companies as well as their staff to develop advanced and innovative UAS applications, procedures, techniques, and technologies to facilitate safe integration into the NAS as mandated by Congress.” While the outdoor deck of the Marquee Dayclub is a part of NAS, it may not have been exactly what the FAA had in mind when designating the Nevada drone test site.
Since 2014, the FAA has continued to expand the operations conducted at the UAS test sites, and Las Vegas has become one of the nation’s test-beds for drone delivery practices. And as the need for social distancing has arisen due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, drone based deliveries have become even more important. In select regions throughout the world, people have been receiving everything from to-go food like burgers and drinks, toilet paper and milk, medications, and groceries by drones directly to their homes. In September 2020, a North Las Vegas Walmart store began a drone delivery partnership with Quest Diagnostics. For residents living within a 1 mile radius of the store, they could schedule a free drone delivery service that would bring them a COVID-19 test kit.
While the city of Las Vegas may be better known for some of its catchphrases like Sin City, or the city with Just the Right Amount of Wrong, it should also be known as a city that embraces, encourages, and fosters technological advancement. Because of COVID-19, the casinos, theaters, and other famous Las Vegas attractions have not been hosting crowds as they have in the past. But with the high demand that the world now needs for drones, Las Vegas is proving that it is more than just for fun and games. Perhaps now people will start referring to Las Vegas for one of its lesser known slogans, “Where the Sky’s the Limit”.