Singapore Post delivers mail by drone

Singapore Post delivers mail by drone

Drones as postmen? A successful trial by SingPost and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) saw a letter and a t-shirt in a package delivered from Lorong Halus to Pulau Ubin by a drone. The 2km trip took about five minutes.

SingPost said this is the first time a postal service has used an unmanned aerial vehicle for point-to-point recipient-authenticated mail delivery, Today online reported on Thursday.

Postal services in France, Switzerland, Finland and China reportedly have also been exploring drone delivery services.

The drone used was built upon the IDA Labs’s Pixhawk Steadidrone platform to meet the new conceptual delivery platform from SingPost. On top of some safety features, it comes with a prototype app designed with security and verification features that ensures the mail reaches its intended recipient.

While the focus of the successful flight was to test the drone technology and safety boundaries, the drone was built with the capacity to carry a payload of up to half a kilogramme, fly at a height of up to 45 metres and travel a distance of 2.3km.

“SingPost’s exploration of the drone technology is a move to provide enhanced end-to-end solutions to facilitate urban logistics as well as tap on the burgeoning eCommerce growth in Asia Pacific,” said the postal operator, adding that the region’s electronic commerce is expected to reach US$175 billion (6,300 billion baht) by 2016.

“The successful conclusion of this trial shows how SingPost is thinking out of the box and its willingness to expand its traditional mail delivery model in innovative ways,” said Jacqueline Poh, Managing Director at IDA.

“Although it will be a while before it is viable for drone mail delivery to take off in Singapore, taking into consideration commercial and safety factors, this first step by SingPost and IDA demonstrates what Singapore is trying out with our Smart Nation vision.”

Wolfgang Baier, group chief executive officer of SingPost, said: “We are seeing success in our digital transformation which did not happen overnight. Our success is made possible through collaborations with industry experts and our business partners. Now, we want to make innovation more accessible and bring more tangible benefits to our customers and consumers.”

The multi-agency Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Committee, which facilitated the trial, has been discussing with public and private sector organisations on innovative uses of UAS.

“The technology opens up numerous exciting possibilities which could help us enhance operational productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. All this, of course, needs to be carried in a safe manner, both for the public as well as aviation,” said Pang Kin Keong, the committee’s chairman and permanent secretary for transport.

SingPost Alpha drone delivery trial. (YouTube video)

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