Australia Post announced that it has successfully launched a closed-field trial of a new technology that will allow the company to deliver small parcels by using drones.
Dubbed "Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)," the drone aims to safely and securely deliver small parcels to the homes of customers, particularly time-critical deliveries such as medication.
"We're excited to be the first major parcels and logistics company in Australia to test RPA technology for commercial delivery applications," said Australia Post Managing Director and Group CEO Ahmed Fahour on its official newsroom site. "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," he added.
The company said that the new technology could be particularly useful to customers from rural areas, wherein most of their homes are far away from the mail boxes. To address the situation, drone delivery drivers will simply launch the drone from that part of the road where they are parked.
"RPAs (remotely piloted aircrafts) may be another way to help make our customers' lives easier," said Fahour.
The RPAs, which were developed by Melbourne-based company ARI Labs, are equipped with a high-definition camera and safety features such as alarm, parachute and warning lights, which can be easily activated if the situation calls for it.
Furthermore, the drones can reportedly send encrypted data back to a base station in order to allow engineers to safely monitor real time flight activity. In the future, ARI Labs plans to incorporate an automatic monitoring system in the RPAs.
The consumer trial, according to Australia Post General Manager Ben Franzi, would conduct drone-maneuvered deliveries twice a week to 50 locations which are said to be outside the metropolitan area. It is also said to be backed by the country's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) which, in September, made the rules for commercial drone operation less strict and more accessible by farmers.
Australia Post stressed that the company takes safety very seriously and promised that it will only bring the technology into play once the company is 100 percent sure of its safety and reliability.
Several huge retail customers of Australia Post already showed interest in participating in the company's consumer trial. Early customers who confirmed so far include The Iconic and Catch of the Day among others.
Australia Post said that the company's consumer trial is scheduled to launch later this year.