Australia’s mail delivery is set to go hi-tech. Drones or quadcopters are waiting in the wings to take over the mailman’s job. With the Australia Post announcing a two-week trial to deploy drones for parcel delivery, the stage has now been set for that transition.
The test will start with Melbourne using the drones made by ARI Labs. Says Ahmed Fahour, chief executive at Australia Post: “We’re exploring the viability of adding this to our multiple methods of delivery.”
He said the department is very confident that “if we can get through this [trial] we’ll be able to offer this experimental service towards the end of this year.”
During the trial, delivery of packages weighing an average 2.5 pounds will be delivered. However, no lengthy journeys can be expected in the initial voyages, reports Digital Trends.
However, Fahour made it clear that safety will not be compromised and this is no “rushing into any sort of drone-centric mail plan.”
“We’ll only bring it into play once we are 100 percent sure that it’s safe and reliable.”
The trial will target mostly rural areas beyond the metropolitan areas. The flight time for quadcopters will be around 15 to 20 minutes and 50 locations will be tried twice during the trial, noted Ben Franzi, general manager for Australia Post’s e-commerce operations.
According to him, Australia Post sees a great opportunity in drones delivering packages in rural Australia, where mailboxes are too far from the customers’ front door.
The tests will determine the reliability of flying robots in terms of distances and objects that can be safely transported and the best ways customers could receive packages.
If proved viable, the postal service would launch a larger consumer trial by the end of 2016 for delivering goods to doorsteps via drones, reports Fortune.
Meanwhile, in the US, retailers are racing to leverage the drone power. On Sunday, Amazon unveiled a new prototype for its Amazon Prime Air drone delivery program which can fly distances of 15 miles and reach altitudes of 400 feet.
The drone will deliver packages within 30 minutes and is a hybrid of helicopter and a fixed-wing airplane. Using “sense and avoid” technology it will avoid getting through potential obstacles to reach its delivery destination, reports Albany Daily Star.
The new prototype is the second design that Amazon has revealed to the public after an eight-propeller device unveiled in December 2013.