The Amazon PrimeAir
The Amazon PrimeAir

Bye-bye posties - packages could be delivered by drone

COULD the humble postie bike be replaced with high-tech drones capable of dropping your mail at the front door?

Probably not, but Australia Post has said "never say never" to technology now being tested by online shopping giant Amazon.

The internet juggernaut this week revealed it was working on a project called "Amazon Prime Air" which would have parcels weighing up to 2.3kg delivered by small drones called Octocopters.

Shoppers would pay a premium to have their packages arrive within 30 minutes of ordering.

It aims to roll out the technology "some time in 2015" assuming it can score approvals from the American aviation authority.

According to Amazon, "One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today".

Australia Post is keeping a close watch on what Amazon is doing, but a spokeswoman said the national postal giant was not yet investigating the technology.

The mailing powerhouse delivers 20 million items to 11 million Australian addresses each day.

Meanwhile Australia's own air-traffic regulator - the Civil Aviation Safety Authority - expects a stack of hurdles if any company decided to roll out drones in Australian neighbourhoods.

Any remotely piloted aircraft that travels beyond the controller's view needs special approval, with most of these used for aerial photography, crop dusting or surveying.

CASA has given 70 approvals but a specific go-ahead from the regulator is required if they are to be used in built up areas.

According to a CASA spokesman, no such application has been made "although interest has been expressed publicly".

It is unlikely online shoppers will receive their purchases by drone any time soon, but at least it is not impossible.

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