The Australia Post is set to commence a two-week trial for delivering parcels using drones in the city of Melbourne. The state-owned company on 15 April said it would use drones manufactured by ARI Labs, an Australian drone applications company.
Ahmed Fahour, chief executive at Australia Post, said: "We're exploring the viability of adding this to our multiple methods of delivery. 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."
These drones, which have the capacity to carry parcels that weigh up to a little over 2.5 pounds, will be trialled for 15-20 minute flights. These trials will be conducted across 50 locations twice a week in an outer metropolitan location, Ben Franzi, general manager e-commerce platforms at Australia Post, said.
The objective of performing the trial is to analyse the reliability of these drones apart from their capacity in terms of the distance it can cover and the objects it can safely deliver. The move is especially beneficial for rural customers whose homes are located at distances far from their mail boxes.
With regards to the safety of the drones, Fahour stressed it was of utmost importance for his company. "We take safety very seriously. We'll only bring it into play once we are 100 per cent sure that it's safe and reliable," he added.
Moreover, these drones, apart from coming with a high-definition camera, will come fitted with a parachute, alarm and warning lights as safety precautions. These can be activated if the drones malfunction in the sky or whenever needed. Engineers controlling the drones will also have the ability to safely monitor flight activity in real time.
This move comes following the relaxation of some regulations with regards to air traffic safety for commercial drone operators by CASA, the government body responsible for the maintenance, enhancement and promotion of the safety of civil aviation in Australia.
Other parts of the world are also witnessing the testing of drone deliveries. For instance, Japan trialled drone deliveries earlier this week. US companies such as Amazon, Google and Walmart, on the other hand, though interested in drone deliveries are not able to implement them in the US because of stricter regulations. Amazon has instead started testing in countries with more relaxed regulations such as the UK and the Netherlands.