While companies like Amazon, Google and Walmart wait to make their dreams of drone delivery a reality in the United States, Australia has already begun testing delivering small parcels via drones. The Australia Post has announced it is testing the new technology to deliver packages safely and securely to customers.
“Today’s online shopper expects to receive their purchase whenever and wherever they want. RPAs [Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or drones] may be another way to help make our customers’ lives easier and builds on our existing 24x7 Parcel Lockers and MyPost service. Customers who sign up to MyPost can elect to have their parcel safe-dropped or sent to an alternate location, as well as receiving SMS and e-mail notification,” said Ahmed Fahour, managing director and group CEO of Australia Post.
According to Fahour, the country’s e-commerce and online shopping industry has been rapidly growing over the past couple of years, and drone delivery is a way to keep up with ever-changing customer needs and technological advancements. “This trial is another exciting example of how we’re looking to the future with emerging technologies to make life easier for our customers,” he said.
The new drone solution is part of Australia Post’s US$20 million innovation fund for investing in e-commerce businesses and for providing new ways to help businesses reach their customers.
“RPA technology will continue to evolve over the coming years, and while we're not sure what role it will play in our future, we do think there are opportunities for time-critical deliveries or where there are significant distances between the road and front door,” Fahour said.
The organization will be working with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to ensure drone delivery is integrated safely and securely. Test flights will occur on Australia Post premises, and it will work with a startup, AEI Labs, to operate the unmanned vehicles.
The delivery drones are designed to fly for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 feet.