Russian Postal Drone Service Gets Off to Rocky Start

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A Russian drone designed to be used for rural deliveries got off to a rocky start this week. At its unveiling, the drone’s first flight started and finished with it veering wildly off course, crashing into a wall at full speed and ending up in pieces. It’s fair to say that residents and officials present at the ceremony in the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude were not impressed.

According to Reuters, “Russian Post was quick to distance itself from the drone crash, saying it was present at the launch merely as a guest. It said the drone was made by a company called Rudron/Expeditor 3M, which had organized the testing.”

Russia’s postal service made public its plans to launch a drone delivery network back in 2016. Huge parts of the country stand to benefit from aerial infrastructure, particularly rural villages that become increasingly isolated during the winter.

Despite efforts to wash its hands of the accident, the footage above from the scene shows the drone lifting off from a miniature launch pad bearing Russian Post’s blue and white logo.

Alexei Tsydenov, head of the Buryatia region and present at the crash site, pointed out that the accident was probably caused by one of the more than 100 Wi-Fi connections in the area, which may have disrupted the drone’s flight.

“We won’t stop with this, we will keep trying,” he said, after admitting that the device cost close to $20,000. “Those who don’t risk don’t get a result.”

Several postal companies have tentatively set up drone delivery pilot programs. These range from Flytrex in Iceland to UPS in the US and DHL.

Few have started off with a crash as spectacular as the Russian postal service. But then again, maybe the cameras just weren’t running at the time.


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