The testing of delivery drones has begun outside of the United States, with Switzerland’s postal service confirming last week that it had commenced the testing of unmanned drones making parcel deliveries.
The drones from Swiss Post would be able to carry parcels weighing a maximum of 2.2 pounds and will have the capacity to travel for at least six miles in one go. The national post service is currently working closely with Swiss WorldCargo, the air delivery service run by Swiss International Airlines, and have stressed that thorough testing would be required before the drones could be used commercially.
Swiss Post said in a statement: “The drone has an extremely light construction and is capable of transporting loads of up to one kilo over more than 10 kilometres with a single battery charge.”
The drones will be able to fly “autonomously, following clearly defined, secure flight paths, which are drawn up by cloud software developed by Matternet (the drone’s US manufacturer).”
However, full use of parcel delivery drones is not expected for five years, with the company adding: “Until the time of their realistic commercial use in around five years, there are various requirements which need to be clarified.”
Swiss Post have stated that these tests would include navigating the regulations currently in place that apply to unmanned drones roaming the skies, and extensive investigation into any technical restrictions such as battery life.
Switzerland aren’t the only country to follow in Amazon’s footsteps and trial drone delivery. In June, New Zealand-based delivery company Fastway Couriers successfully trialled a drone parcel delivery service by shipping car parts from Penrose to Mount Wellington. The journey would take a land-based courier 20 minutes but the drone completed the delivery in just five minutes.
Fastway Couriers teamed up with unmanned aerial vehicle company Flirtey, based in Sydney Australia, whose drones do not require a person to control it with GPS, have a range of 15 kilometres and can carry packages weighing up to 2.5kg.
One of the biggest barriers for Amazon has been the regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). However, companies testing courier drones in New Zealand will face fewer obstacles because of the country’s relaxed legislation and less crowded skies.
Robert Mead, Marketing Manager at Parcel2Go.com, believes that drones will completely transform how customers receive their orders: “Although it may take several more years, it’s great to see more and more companies exploring new and faster ways of delivering to their customers and with more countries working on the technology, drone deliveries may arrive sooner than we think. Until that time comes, retailers need to continue to find new ways to deliver goods to their customers quickly and reliably. It’s important for sellers to explore the faster delivery options available to them that will not only guarantee customer satisfaction but also prove financially viable for themselves.”