On Tuesday, Switzerland announced plans to start testing drones for mail delivery this summer. The Swiss Post now joins the ranks of Amazon and DHL in looking to tap into using unmanned aircraft to send parcels to people.
The Swiss Post will be using autonomous quadcopters developed by California-based company Matternet to get small packages out to Swiss businesses and residents. Matternet ONE can carry anything up to 2.2 lbs for over 12 miles on a single charge — so just compact items over a relatively short distance.
The test is a proof of concept to see how well such a delivery system would work in case of an emergency that knocks out normal transportation methods, or during a disaster that cuts off a community from the rest of the country. Matternet’s drones have already been used in Haiti to deliver medicine quickly to clinics in need. The Swiss Post is also looking to “clarify the legal framework” that would allow drones to be used on a large scale.
The company emphasizes it doesn’t expect to use drones for widespread delivery for at least another five years. And even then, it’s not sure to what extent that would entail.
Besides Amazon and DHL, Google and UPS are also looking into how to use drones for their own delivery — either to customers or for internal purposes. Unfortunately, FAA regulations haven’t been updated to allow for these companies to begin their own similar tests, allowing those neutral bastards in Europe to get ahead of us. Although North Dakota is opening the country’s first-ever airport for unmanned aircraft, the commercial drone industry will still have ways to go before it can really take off (ha).