Australia Post, which provides postal services for Australia and its overseas territories, is testing mail delivery drones that could allow for faster delivery of medication and online shopping items.
The delivery drones are expected to cost $10,000 each and can deliver 2kg packages over 25km. At the moment, Australia Post is performing closed-field trials, while a customer trial is expected to follow later this year. Australia Post is working closely with local start-up ARI Labs to demonstrate the reliability and applications of the technology.
“Just like vans, trucks and airplanes, they didn’t replace what we do,” Australia Post chief Ahmed Fahour said. “This trial is another exciting example of how we’re looking to the future with emerging technologies to make life easier for our customers.”
Under the drone delivery program, customers who sign up can elect to have their parcel “safe-dropped,” or sent to an alternate location as well as receiving SMS and email notifications.
“We will put this innovative technology through its paces over the coming weeks and months to understand what it can deliver, how far it can travel, and ultimately, how our customers could receive a parcel.”
Could remotely piloted aircrafts, or ‘drones’, be the future of parcel deliveries? pic.twitter.com/r20tDaKz8Z
— Australia Post (@auspost) April 15, 2016
Posti, the Finnish postal service, experimented with drone delivery in September 2015. For four days, Posti used drones to deliver packages bought online to customers in Helsinki, between the mainland and an island just off shore.
More recently we saw a Japanese delivery drone being tested for home deliveries in the coastal city of Chiba, 25 miles west of Tokyo. The first drone delivery test involved a six-rotor drone taking off from the rooftop of the Aeon Mall Makuharishintoshin shopping center and safely bringing a bottle of wine to a group of spectators at a nearby park. The drone delivery tests also successfully airlifted medicine from the ground to the rooftop – it was 31 meters off the ground – of a 10-story apartment building. None of the reports specify the distance of either drone delivery test.
And Flirtey, a Nevada-based startup, recently completed the first FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the United States, delivering a package that included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit to a residential area in Hawthorne, Nevada.