A few days ago, the Slovenian Post launched the first pilot use of a drone courier. With the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles, preparations have started to systematise the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver mail where conventional vehicles can only reach slowly, with difficulty or not at all.
“Given the current trends and our capabilities, we are not far away from doing actual logistics courier services with drones instead of experimental flights. We would like to actively participate in the process of creating regulations governing the flight and operation of unmanned commercial aircraft in Slovenia. Of course, we have one goal, we are looking for new business opportunities,” said Tomaž Kokot, Director General of the Slovenian Post Office, at the demonstration of the first successful drone courier.
The flying device used by the post office can carry two kilogram packages and can cover a distance of 100 kilometres on a single charge. The first drone delivery was carried out with the first Slovenian unmanned aerial vehicle operator, OneDrone, and the company ElevonX, which also manufactures the vehicle. OneDrone has been running one of Europe’s first specialised drone webshops for almost a decade and is also very successful in training “drone pilots”.
ElevonX, which started as a start-up a few years ago, is growing rapidly, as its innovative modular SkyEye family of drones (its own fleet of electric and petrol powered proprietary drones) is highly adaptable, has broken into the international market and could soon become a global player.
There is room for improvement, said the post’s top man, with drones already widely used in the US, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Switzerland, and unmanned aerial vehicles with a one-tonne payload capacity and a range of 1,500 kilometres already planned for China, due to enter service in 2025. In the European Union, there are also ambitious projects for the use of drones, which are already common tools in agriculture, energy, law enforcement and online retailing. “It’s high time we started on this path,” says Tomaž Kokot.
Drone courier services offer a number of advantages, such as reduced pollution, optimised logistics routes and the ability to quickly and efficiently deliver urgent deliveries to hard-to-reach locations, such as mountain shelters. It is no coincidence that the Vršič Pass in the Alps is the ideal place to do so, the Slovenian drone made the first delivery to the Poštarski dom shelter, 1688 metres above sea level.
The flights will be used to deliver medicine, laboratory samples, medical equipment, for example, a drone with a defibrillator and a mobile phone to a remote and difficult-to-reach place could save lives, and waste left by climbers and tourists could finally be transported from the peaks of the Alps.
After the successful experiment, Kristijan Perčič, Innovation Director of the Slovenian Post, said that his institution was keen to participate in scientific development and innovation projects promoting autonomous transport. Their aim is to be initiators and participants in the consortium of companies in the sector, because they are confident that drone logistics also has great business potential in Slovenia.