It’s just an experiment for now, not a fully launched program, and will only operate once a week. But it is the first time a federal postal service will use drones to deliver on a regular route.
The DPDgroup, a subsidiary of the French national postal service, has been perfecting its drone delivery project since 2014 in the south of France, working in partnership with Atechsys, a French drone company. In September 2015, the drone delivery project demonstrated its aircraft could fly in complete autonomy carrying a package weighing over three pounds a distance of nearly nine miles.
The drone route stretches between Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Beaume and Pourrières in the Provence region of France in the southeast of the country. For now, its businesses are participating in the experiment, including a dozen tech companies that can now receive parcels by drone, according to a statement from DPDgroup.
Eventually, Le Groupe La Poste, the name of the French postal service, hopes to use drones to deliver parcels in hard to reach rural or mountainous regions, where last-mile delivery is difficult and expensive by ground vehicle.
The drones used in the French postal experiment can fly as far as 12 miles carrying a payload of about two pounds at a maximum speed of about 19 miles per hour and are equipped with a parachute to land safely in case of a disruption with the flight.
The U.S. Postal Service has been looking into drones, too. In October, USPS released the results of a survey gauging how Americans feel about the idea of drones carrying parcels to American doorsteps, showing more Americans like the idea of drone delivery than dislike it.