Swiss Post, Swiss WorldCargo (the air freight division of Swiss International Air Lines) and Matternet (a logistics drone manufacturer based in California) are jointly testing the commercial use of logistics drones. The three companies are investigating specific uses of drone technology and examining their cost-effectiveness. Testing is being done in July 2015.
Possible areas of application range from delivery to peripheral areas and express delivery of goods. There are still various requirements which need to be clarified however, including the regulatory framework and technical restrictions such as limited battery life.
Use in emergency situations conceivable
Despite these challenges the use of drones in the near future in emergency situations is conceivable. For example, bringing supplies to an area that has been cut off following a storm or urgent transport of high priority consignments such as urgent laboratory tests.
Drone model to be initially used
Several Matternet ONE vehicles are being tested. The flying device is specially designed for transporting small deliveries and it is extremely simple to operate. The drone has a very light construction and is capable of transporting loads of up to 1 kilogram over more than 10 kilometres with a single battery charge. Matternet ONE flies autonomously, following clearly defined, secure flight paths, which are drawn up by cloud software.
The widespread use of drones is not expected for five years and the focus is currently on using them in exceptional cases.