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France is the first to use drones for its national mail service

One step closer toward drone couriers becoming routine.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 21, 2016
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Oktay Ortakcioglu via Getty Images

It's no longer surprising to see postal services experimenting with delivering mail using drones. However, France is kicking things up a notch: its national mail service will be the first to deliver packages by drone on a regular route. DPDgroup, the express courier subsidiary of the mail service, is running a test program where a hexacopter drone (not shown here) will carry packages up to 6.6 pounds along a 9.3-mile route in France's southern Provence region.

These are commercial customers using dedicated spaces to collect their orders, so you can't strictly compare this to Amazon's recent home delivery in the UK. It would be considerably more challenging to deliver to individuals, who don't have the luxury of secure areas or readily available staff. However, the routine nature of the experiment is a big deal. It's a step toward using drones as an everyday aspect of mail service instead of limiting them to special occasions. DPDgroup sees this as particularly useful for deliveries in hard-to-access areas like islands and mountains, but it could help in any situation where conventional trucks would be impractical.

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