Canada may have delivery drones in service by late 2017

The country has approved its first UAV test range ahead of a launch this year.

Don't look now, but Canada might just join the likes of France and the UK in ushering in the courier drone era. Transport Canada has approved its first drone test range near the tiny village of Foremost, Alberta, clearing the way for Drone Delivery Canada to launch a robotic cargo service as soon as late 2017. The roughly 927 square miles will help DDC prove that its drones can haul goods across long distances using satellite guidance. Tests with the company's early partners should start sometime in the first quarter of the year.

The drone delivery system could be more important for Canada than it would be for other nations. Like in other countries, DDC will help both government and corporate clients deliver packages both to each other and to customers (say, from online stores). However, the firm is particularly focused on serving Canada's northern communities, where roads are few and even modestly-sized towns may be very far away. Drones could supply these communities with medical supplies and other goods on demand, rather than making them wait for the next scheduled cargo flight or truck. That could not only save lives, but improve the quality of life for rural dwellers that frequently have to deal with food shortages and other problems that come with infrequent deliveries.