Postal workers in France are about to get a day off. The country announced a test program that will use unmanned aircraft to deliver packages once per week, according to a report from Ars Technica.
The General Directorate for Civil Aviation, France’s airspace regulator, has given drones the go-ahead to take over delivery duty on a limited basis. The crafts will take flight in the southern region of Provence, where they will travel a limited, nine-mile route once per week.
Heading the trial will be DPDgroup, an international subsidiary of the French national postal service. The organization has been working on the drone delivery initiative for two years, tapping French drone startup company Atechsys to help with the technology.
During the test phase, drones will pick up packages from a specially developed delivery terminal that assists the unmanned vehicles in take-off and landing located in Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Beaume.
From there, the drones will take their delivers to Pourrières in the department of Var. The area has become a hotbed for tech startups in France.
According to DPDgroup, the drones have a range of about 12 miles and can carry payloads weighing just over six pounds. The crafts will travel speeds topping out at around 18 miles per hour. The package-carrying vehicles will also come equipped with a parachute that will deploy in case of an emergency.
France’s announcement of drone deliveries comes just days after Amazon completed its first successful delivery with an unmanned aircraft in the United Kingdom. The ecommerce giant got permission to test its Prime Air service earlier this year, and has opened up a very limited beta test for deliveries in the Cambridge area.
Experiments with drone deliveries in France and the U.K. may open the door for similar ventures in the United States. Amazon has been heavily lobbying for airspace in the U.S. to allow for autonomous drones to deliver packages. A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule change implemented earlier this year also opened the door for more commercial drone ventures.