The French postal service will soon conduct trials of a drone mail delivery program after it was granted approval from the French aviation regulatory authority, Recode reports. The postal service, which hopes that these trials will eventually lead to a full-scale service that delivers mail to remote areas, operates with more regulatory flexibility around using drones than services operating in the US.
However, once certain regulatory barriers in the US are lifted, it might be possible to see a similar service in the country.
The tests, which will be conducted once a week, mark the first time the French postal service, known as Le Groupe La Postal, will deliver postage via drone on a regular route. These initial tests will take place in the Provence region in southeastern portion of the country, between Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume and Pourrières.
This appears to be a wise move for France as it could cut down on costs while enhancing the efficiency of mail delivery. Using people to deliver mail can often lead to delivery delays, especially if there are accidents on the road. Further, using a drone instead of a delivery person in a truck to take goods through the last mile of delivery eliminates the need to pay a driver while also offering environmental benefits through reduced fossil fuel use.
Overall, more open regulatory environments are more likely to adopt drone delivery services. Currently in the US, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t allow commercial drone deliveries, which is one reason US-based companies like Amazon have taken to testing such services in the UK.
But it might not be such a far-fetched reality to eventually have the US Postal Service deliver mail via drone. Once the FAA releases regulations governing commercial drone deliveries, companies such as UPS and FedEx can deliver parcels for retailers, but so could the Postal Service. Further, the agency conducted a study earlier this year about Americans’ attitudes toward drone deliveries, perhaps indicating that the agency is making internal preparations to launch a service when it becomes legal to do so.
Drones turned the corner in 2015 to become a popular consumer device, while a framework for regulation that legitimizes drones in the US began to take shape. Technological and regulatory barriers still exist to further drone adoption.
Drone manufacturers and software providers are quickly developing technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance that will make flying drones safer. The accelerating pace of drone adoption is also pushing governments to create new regulations that balance safety and innovation.
Safer technology and better regulation will open up new applications for drones in the commercial sector, including drone delivery programs like Amazon’s Prime Air and Google’s Project Wing initiatives.
BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed drones report that forecasts sales revenues for consumer, enterprise, and military drones. It also projects the growth of drone shipments for consumers and enterprises.
The report details several of world’s major drone suppliers and examines trends in drone adoption among several leading industries. Finally, it examines the regulatory landscape in several markets and explains how technologies like obstacle avoidance and drone-to-drone communications will impact drone adoption.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- We project revenues from drones sales to top $12 billion in 2021, up from just over $8 billion last year.
- Shipments of consumer drones will more than quadruple over the next five years, fueled by increasing price competition and new technologies that make flying drones easier for beginners.
- Growth in the enterprise sector will outpace the consumer sector in both shipments and revenues as regulations open up new use cases in the US and EU, the two biggest potential markets for enterprise drones.
- Technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance will make flying drones safer and make regulators feel more comfortable with larger numbers of drones taking to the skies.
- Right now FAA regulations have limited commercial drones to a select few industries and applications like aerial surveying in the agriculture, mining, and oil and gas sectors.
- The military sector will continue to lead all other sectors in drone spending during our forecast period thanks to the high cost of military drones and the growing number of countries seeking to acquire them.
Full story: Business Insider