It’s not the dog the mailman needs to be wary of any longer — rather, it’s the drone. And not because these quadcopters will attack, but because they might be taking over the mailman’s job. The Australia Post, a delivery service Down Under, is beginning a two-week trial that will employ drones for the purpose of parcel delivery. The test run, set to take place in Melbourne, was announced on Friday, and the Australia Post says that it’s using drones from ARI Labs, a domestic drone applications firm.
“We’re exploring the viability of adding this to our multiple methods of delivery,” said Ahmed Fahour, chief executive at Australia Post. “We’re pretty confident that if we can get through this [trial] we’ll be able to offer this experimental service towards the end of this year.”
Capable of delivering packages that weigh around 2.5 pounds, the drones won’t be making any lengthy journeys in their maiden voyage. The total flight time for these quadcopters will stand at around 15 to 20 minutes, and will be conducted throughout 50 locations two times a week in “an outer metropolitan location,” according to general manager of Australia Post’s e-commerce platforms, Ben Franzi.
Ultimately, the goal of these initial tests is to determine just how reliable drones may be in terms of delivering people’s mail and packages — key to their success will be the amount of distance these unmanned devices can cover, and what sorts of objects they can safely pick up and drop off. If they prove useful, the Australia Post sees a great opportunity to use these drones in delivering packages to individuals in more rural parts of Australia, especially those whose mailboxes may be further from their front door.
But Australia assures its citizens that it’s not rushing into any sort of drone-centric mail plan. “We take safety very seriously,” Fahour said. “We’ll only bring it into play once we are 100 percent sure that it’s safe and reliable.”