The French postal service will soon start a new drone delivery program to carry parcels on a set nine-mile route following approval from the French aviation regulatory authority.
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, non-residential customers 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.