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Swiss Post set to test mail delivery by drone

3D Robotics Solo drone
The rise of the drones has been swift and unstoppable. From sports events to sheep herding, these clever contraptions are being used in many different parts of our lives. Mail delivery could be next, after the Swiss postal service was given the go-ahead to test out a mail delivery drone service.

We know that Amazon is interested in developing the technology too, though it has run into regulatory problems with the FAA in the United States. The scheme that’s been greenlit in Switzerland could pave the way for future projects all across the world, and no doubt many other technology companies will be watching closely.

Swiss Post is working with drone outfit Matternet for the duration of the tests. The company’s first drone can transport packages up to 1 kg (2.2 pounds) a distance of 20 km (12.4 miles) on a single charge. Matternet has previously tested its drone technology in Haiti, where medicine and other supplies were distributed to remote and disaster-stricken areas.

Officially the project is designed to test the feasibility of drones delivering our mail, but it’s also about testing the “technical and business capabilities” of the drones themselves. Matternet is going to supply all of the software and hardware while Swiss Post focuses on the logistics of sorting and delivering mail using these small flying machines.

“Quadcopters may be the biggest invention in vehicle technology since the internal combustion engine,” Matternet’s Andreas Raptopoulos told TechCrunch. “They allow us to build vehicles that are extremely simple mechanically and are 90 percent software which is bound to improve dramatically over the next three to five years … This platform will allow software to eat transportation.”

There’s a long way to go while regulatory frameworks get sorted out from country to country, but getting your morning post via drone might be a reality sooner than you think. Alternatively, you could save on stamps and buy your own drone to deliver all your letters and cards for you instead.

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David Nield
Dave is a freelance journalist from Manchester in the north-west of England. He's been writing about technology since the…
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