The three companies are investigating specific uses of drone technology and examining the cost-effectiveness of these business ideas. Future applications could be, for example, bringing supplies to an area that has been cut off from the outside world following a storm. Which specific uses will prevail depends on overcoming regulatory and technical obstacles, explains Swiss Post.
The companies first joined forces earlier this year. Swiss Post is the postal service of Switzerland, Swiss WorldCargo is the air freight division of Swiss International Air Lines and Matternet is a logistics drone manufacturer based in California.
They will test several Matternet ONE vehicles in Switzerland. The aircraft are specially designed for transporting small deliveries and are extremely simple to operate, according to Swiss Post.
With a single battery charge, the drone is capable of transporting loads of up to 1 kilogram over more than 10 kilometers. Matternet ONE flies autonomously, following clearly defined, secure flight paths, which are drawn up by cloud software developed by Matternet.
“Today, we may laugh about this new transport or delivery possibility the way people at the end of the 19th century laughed about the first glider operated by the pioneer of flight, Otto Lilienthal,” said Dieter Bambauer, head of PostLogistics at SwissPost, at a press conference. “However, we are guessing that specific applications will be realistic within five to 10 years.
“It is not realistic that drones will take over conventional nationwide delivery in the future. This is unthinkable in our already overloaded, small airspace when more than 500,000 postal parcels are currently delivered per day, and over a million per day during the Christmas season. The focus of the tests is the utilization of drones in special situations or for transporting special items,” he continued.
“Today, we are at the beginning of an exciting development, at the point where all development paths are still wide open, and we will take advantage of all possible opportunities,” Bambauer said.