The iconic job of a person slinging newspapers onto a front porch might soon be only a memory left to old-fashioned movies. As a mail service in France is showing us, newspaper delivery is yet another job that could be performed by drone.
According to a blog post (via Google Translate), La Poste Groupe has partnered with the French drone manufacturer Parrot to begin testing out the delivery system in May as part of its “Air Drone Postal.”
La Poste Groupe stated it has volunteers signed up for the test service, which will use 20 drones operated by trained postal workers. If the test phase goes well, the group will consider using drones for more widespread paper delivery.
There are several benefits to drone delivery noted in the post. They can take a more direct route compared to a person on foot, riding a bike or driving (think about how they can fly over fences and yards without trampling flower beds). As the blog post also mentions, they won’t have to worry about dogs either.
Now, as Gawker pointed out, Monday is April Fools’ Day. But the mail service’s blog post came up a few days ago and there are no indications yet on its websites that this is a prank. Still, Gawker wrote:
No one, in France or anywhere else, is replacing their existing newspaper-delivery infrastructure by loading one newspaper at a time onto flying drones. “Whether they actually strapped a newspaper to the back of an AR Drone or not, the whole thing is clearly a stunt,” gadget writer Joel Johnson, who’s worked with a Parrot AR drones, wrote me in an email. “Not only do AR Drones not have enough battery life to be of any practical use—they can fly for maybe 10 minutes in a typical windy day, and that’s without a multi-ounce newspaper payload—they don’t have the kind of clever sensor packages on board to do any autonomous navigation in a city, even if they were being remote controlled by an offboard computer.”
The Parrot drones, which are flown using mobile phones, have a range of 50 meters. The Parrot AR is described as a drone quadrocopter that uses augmented reality and is piloted by Wi-Fi.
Regardless if this is a prank or not, hypothetically, it could not yet happen the United States due to current FAA regulations. In fact, some businesses using unmanned aerial vehicles for things like cinematography have been dinged recently for violating the regulations. The “TacoCopter,” a food delivery drone, also was prevented from officially being put into service by these regulations as well.
As TheBlaze recently reported, U.S.-based drone manufacturers believe the rest of the world is further along in their laws allowing for the more widespread use of such technology. The FAA is expected to finalize regulations by 2015 that could open the sky up in the U.S. for commercial and private drone use.
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This story has been updated to include that there is the potential for it to be a prank.
(H/T: The Verge)