Drones Going Postal – A Summary of Postal Service Delivery Drone Trials

Drones Going Postal – A Summary of Postal Service Delivery Drone Trials

27 JUNE, 2016 Postal Delivery Drones With the rapid demise of snail mail and the explosive double digit growth of e-Commerce, postal companies have been forced to seek new ways to expand beyond their traditional letter delivery business models. Given the online consumer’s expectation of fast parcel delivery, it is not surprising that many of these postal service companies are now turning towards delivery drone technology to remain afloat. This article focuses on the recent activities different postal companies from Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Singapore and Ukraine have undertaken as they test the feasibility and profitability of unmanned delivery drone services.  Although the general consensus is that it will still take a while for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to become the defacto parcel delivery mode given a variety of existing obstacles (e.g. consumer expectations, end recipient safety, threat of theft, regulatory frameworks, battery life limitation, etc.), the current trend does indeed point to a time where Fido won’t be able to savor the mailman’s leg. The Australia Post parcel delivery drone in action. Photograph by Eddie Jim via the Sydney Morning Herald Australia Post In 2015 Australia Post reported their first full year loss in over 30 years of operation. Their AU$222 million (US$171 million) loss was a dramatic change compared to their AU$116.2 million (US$89.72 million) profit in 2014. What they did see however was that although letter volumes fell by 7.3%, parcel revenue rose by 3.6%. Ever since then, this government owned postal company down under has been quite active in the testing of delivery drone usage “It is not a matter of if, but rather of when” This...
Dynamic Drone Duo – Parcel Delivery Edition

Dynamic Drone Duo – Parcel Delivery Edition

Dynamic Drone Duo – Parcel Delivery Edition When two unmanned delivery drones are better than one Unmanned Cargo Delivery Concept – Chronicle 18   Drones by themselves are wonderful things. Pair them up however, and there is no limit to what they can achieve. Whether they are disposing of nuclear waste or performing firefighting duty aboard U.S. Navy ships, dynamic drone duos are proving that sometimes two drones are better than one. So why not apply the same concept to drone delivery operations? Is a one-two drone punch what commercial drone delivery operations need?  No single parcel delivery drone can do it all. If it flies, its effectiveness is limited by payload capacity. If it rolls or walks, it is limited by restricted pathfinding capabilities given its low vantage point. So why not combine the best of both worlds by creating a Cooperative Robotic System (CRS) that pairs up land- and air-based delivery drones to better map and navigate the challenging urban and suburban environments they operate in? Well, that is exactly what researchers at ETH Zurich’s Autonomous Systems Labs have done. They have partnered their walking robot with a sidekick UAV that is capable of scouting the terrain ahead. Collating the data from its hexacopter buddy and combining it with its embedded laser rangefinder allows the walking robot (with a theoretically bigger payload capacity) to overcome its limited ground vantage point of view and thus better calculate an optimized route to its destination over unknown terrain. How does it work? Summarized in one sentence,  “prior knowledge from the initial exploration [of the flying UAV] enables the walking robot to...
Swiss Postal Delivery via Drones – Tests to run until end of July

Swiss Postal Delivery via Drones – Tests to run until end of July

Swiss Post Testing Drones for Mail Delivery Unmanned Cargo Delivery Concept – Chronicle 10 Swiss Post, Swiss WorldCargo and Matternet Start Drone Tests ( July 10, 2015) (Editor’s Note: Swiss postal delivery concept was originally touched upon back in April as mentioned in this post.) What Article Chronicles:  Switzerland’s postal service, Swiss Post, announced on Tuesday, July 7th, that it had begun testing parcel deliveries via unmanned cargo drones. Tests will run until the end of July. The goal is to test the practical use as well as cost-effectiveness of drones in delivery logistics, not just for mail/parcel delivery but also for emergency situations (e.g. delivery of emergency relief supplies or high priority consignments such as laboratory samples). The widespread use of drones, however, is not expected within the next five years. Current barriers to everyday use include the Swiss regulatory framework and existing technical limitations such as limited battery life. Official UAV / Drone Name: To be determined. Several Matternet Models, particularly the Matternet ONE, will be used in the drone tests. Basic UAV/ Drone Description:  Autonomous, “snow-white”, “light structure” quadcopter that can follow pre-programmed flight routes established by cloud software from Matternet. Payload: Up to 1 kg (2.2 lb) via small thermally insulated containers. Range: Approximately 10 km (6.2 miles). Speed: Unknown. Companies Involved: Swiss Post Swiss WorldCargo Matternet   What are your thoughts on the use of unmanned postal delivery drones? Comment below!...

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