Australia Post looks to drones as letter volumes fall

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Australia's Post Office Looks Into Drones

Melbourne - Australia Post has successfully field-trialled the use of drones to deliver small packages, clearing the way for test deliveries to customer homes later this year.

The state-owned corporation said the drones will be used for the delivery of online shopping parcels and time-sensitive items such as medication.

"We will put this innovative technology through its paces over the coming weeks and months to understand what it can deliver, how far it can travel, and ultimately, how our customers could receive a parcel," Australia Post Managing Director Ahmed Fahour said.

Postal services around the world are facing dramatic declines in their core letter-delivery business as customers turn to the internet for all forms of correspondence from billing to greeting cards.

Check out how drones are being used in sports:

Drones in Sports
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Australia Post looks to drones as letter volumes fall
In this photo taken on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, police officers investigate the southwest corner of Louis Armstrong Stadium after a drone flew over the court, buzzing the players during a match between Flavia Pennetta, of Italy, and Monica Niculescu, of Romania, during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. The drone crash-landed in the seats and can be seen to the right of the police officer on his phone. Whether they're crashing into the bleachers or simply hovering above stadiums to get a cool picture of the action down below, drones have become semi-regular guests at the ballparks these days. That has put the federal government, local police forces and security think tanks on alert, trying to catch up to the technology and figure out how to prevent the hard-to-stop devices from doing major damage. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Britain's Mohamed Farah operates a drone during a break in a training session for the upcoming World Athletic Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 21: Mo Farah of Great Britain looks on as he flies a drone during a practice session ahead of the 15th IAAF World Athletics Championships Beijing 2015 at the Beijing National Stadium on August 21, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
A drone flies an Albanian flag at the national league match in Vlora, 140 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of capital Tirana, between local Flamurtari FC vs. KF Skenderbeu, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. The game ended 1-1. Earlier this week a drone that flew an Albanian nationalist banner over a soccer stadium in Belgrade, Serbia ignited a brawl when Albanian players who tried to protect it were attacked by Serb counterparts, fans and security staff on the pitch, forcing the referee to abandon the match. (AP Photo/str)
A drone with an Albanian flag flies over Partizan stadium during the Euro 2016 Group I qualifying match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade, Serbia, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
FILE - This is a Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 file photo of a drone with an Albanian flag banner flies over Partizan stadium during the Euro 2016 Group I qualifying match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade, Serbia. The match was abandoned due to crowd trouble. Albania was awarded a victory over Serbia by the top sports court on Friday July 10, 2015 in a reversal of a UEFA sanction over a soccer game that was abandoned when a drone with a political banner flew into the stadium. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - MAY 14: A drone remote-controlled carrying a cloth simulating a ghost with the letter B on it is seen during a second leg match between Boca Juniors and River Plate as part of round of sixteen of Copa Bridgestone Libertadores 2015 at Alberto J. Armando Stadium on May 14, 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Amilcar Orfali/LatinContent/Getty Images)
Players of ASM Clermont Auvergne rugby club take part in a training session on February 19, 2015 at the Marcel Michelin stadium in Clermont-Ferrand, central France, as a drone films them for training analysis. AFP PHOTO / THIERRY ZOCCOLAN (Photo credit should read THIERRY ZOCCOLAN/AFP/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NC - FEBRUARY 25: A camera-equipped flying drone is seen prior to a game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on February 25, 2014 in Durham, North Carolina. Duke defeated Virginia Tech 66-48. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 7: A drone flies above the scoreboard at Wrigley Field during the seventh inning of the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game on September 7, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images)

While Australia Post is the first Australian company to get into the area of drone delivery, in the United States online retailer Amazon unveiled a drone delivery prototype in November, joining competitors GOOGL and Wal-Mart[WMTST.UL] who are also looking into the technology. .

Australia's vast interior is one of the most sparsely populated in the world, but drone delivery is unlikely to penetrate beyond the major cities: Amazon's prototype last year managed to fly a package only 15 miles (24 kms).

Australia Post last year posted a A$222 million ($171 million) loss, the company's first full-year loss posting in over 30 years and dramatic down-turn from a A$116.2 million ($89.72 million) profit in 2014. The company attributed some of the loss to a 10.3 per cent fall in the use of stamped letters.

Related: Swiss Post also trying out drones:
Swiss Post Tests Delivery Drones

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