Australia Post has begun to trial new technology to deliver small parcels by Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) or drone. This closed-field trial is an important next step in testing the new technology which will potentially deliver small parcels safely and securely to customers’ homes, allowing for faster transportation of time-critical items like medication.

Australia Post Managing Director and Group CEO Ahmed Fahour said this is just one of many innovations the organization is exploring, with Australia’s e-commerce and online shopping sector experiencing double-digit growth over the past five years.

“Australia Post has been adapting to changing customer needs and new technological advancements for over 200 years. This trial is another exciting example of how we’re looking to the future with emerging technologies to make life easier for our customers,” Mr Fahour said.

“Today’s online shopper expects to receive their purchase whenever and wherever they want. RPAs may be another way to help make our customers’ lives easier and builds on our existing 24/7 Parcel Lockers and MyPost service. Customers who sign up to MyPost can elect to have their parcel safe-dropped, or sent to an alternate location as well as receiving SMS and email notifications.

“We’re excited to be the first major parcels and logistics company in Australia to test RPA technology for commercial delivery applications. 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.

“RPA technology will continue to evolve over the coming years and while we’re not sure what role it will play in our future, we do think there are opportunities for time-critical deliveries or where there are significant distances between the road and front door.

“At the heart of our approach to innovation is our passion to help Australian businesses take advantage of the e-commerce boom, while delivering choice and convenience for consumers.”

Australia Post is working closely with local start-up ARI Labs, developers of the proprietary technology, to demonstrate the reliability and applications of the technology. A customer trial is expected to follow later this year.

This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Sarah O'Connor

Sarah O'Connor is the editor of Direct Marketing magazine.

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