Australia Post tests drones for parcel delivery

Australia Post has launched its new drone technology that will see small parcels delivered to customers’ homes via Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).

The organization’s CEO Ahmed Fahour told The Australian the closed-field trial would prove especially useful for online shopping, which has experienced double-digit growth over the past five years. “Today’s online shopper expects to receive their purchase wherever and whenever they want. RPA’s may be another way to help make out customers’ live easier. 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.”

Mr Fahour said AusPost has been working with CASA to demonstrate reliability, safety and operational processes with an eye to commencing customer trials in the 2nd half of the year. The organization is working with Melbourne-based start-up ARI Labs, with their trained pilots operating the drones.

It’s understood around 50 businesses will participate in the trial, which will see parcel drivers take a drone with them to customers who have agreed to participate in the trial. The drone will be used for the final step of the delivery, to take the parcel over a locked gate for example or where there’s a long distance from the gate to a front porch.

Australia post drones

The prototype drone can carry up to 1.2kg, and is being tested for short length flights of 15-20 minutes, or approximately 15 kilometers. The drone prototype boasts an HD cameras and a parachute system which deploys and allows the craft to land safely in the event of a malfunction.

“We’re moving with the times and helping our staff do their jobs as effectively as they can,” Mr Fahour said. “While we’re not sure what role the drones 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 the front door. He added the drones wouldn’t replace staff but would instead augment Australia Post’s approach of using different modes of delivery depending on location and parcel size.

Mr Fahour also said the trial builds on the organisation’s $20 million innovation fund, where Australia Post will invest in innovative e-commerce businesses.