Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery system is still in development, and on the other side of the pond the Swiss Post is looking to deliver mail and small packages using such flying robots.
Switzerland’s postal service doesn’t work alone on this matter, as it’s getting plenty of help from Matternet, a manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles who has made a purpose from turning drone deliveries into a reality. In order “to clarify the legal framework, consider local conditions and explore the technical and business capabilities of the drones,” Matternet will start testing the drone delivery system this summer.
The drone manufacturer will surely have several drone models in its portfolio by the time the system gets the green light from the local authorities. In the meantime, though, there’s only ONE. Arguably, they could have chosen a better name for their first UAV, but more important than the name is the actual functionality.
The ONE can carry packages of up to 1 kg over a distance of 20 km without needing a recharge. Considering that in most cities post offices have a range of action that’s much smaller than 10 km (the drone would have to return, wouldn’t it?), there shouldn’t be any problems in delivering envelopes and light parcels, provided they’re not too voluminous.
“Our product is vertically integrated into a complete transportation solution. Swiss Post comes to us, we supply them all the technology (drones, landing pads, batteries, charging stations, cloud software) and they just focus on operations,” explained Andreas Raptopoulos, co-founder of Matternet (the other one being Paola Santana). “Quadcopters may be the biggest invention in vehicle technology since the internal combustion engine. They allow us to build vehicles that are extremely simple mechanically and are 90%+ software which is bound to improve dramatically over then next 3-5 years. Things like weather performance, performance in GPS-denied environments, ‘sense and avoid,’ etc. will make these vehicles way more robust and useful by the end of the decade. This platform will allow software to eat transportation”
I’m fairly certain that drones will get to play a major role in our lives that goes well beyond mail delivery. It would be great if there were charging stations for drones, so that they can cover greater distances without having to fear that they might not make it back.
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