Newspapers, Delivered by Drone

The Atlantic

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A drone on its paper route (La Poste)

Add one more to the list of jobs that are being obviated by robots: news delivery.

In Auvergne, a province in southern France, residents get their daily news the old-fashioned way: through newspapers. But the delivery of said newspapers, apparently, will soon be executed with the help of high tech -- because it'll be done with the help of drones.

Auvergne's local postal service, La Poste Group, announced on its blog that it is partnering with the drone-maker Parrot to explore the wacky world of high-flying news delivery. The service will be called "Parrot Air Drone Postal," and it will make use of Parrot's quadricopter drones. While the service is slated for launch in May, the delivery service is already being, er, piloted in Auvergne, Silicon Alley Insider reports, with a team of 20 postal workers and 20 drones. (The postal workers control the drones by a specialized app -- which they can use on iOS or Android devices.)

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A postal worker controls a newspaper-delivery drone with a smartphone. (La Poste)

This may, oui, seem like an April Fool's joke with a French twist. But drones are hoped to replace humans in package delivery in places far beyond France. The FAA been studiously streamlining the process for public agencies to safely fly drones in U.S. airspace, with the goal of allowing for "the safe integration" of all kinds of drones -- including for commercial purposes -- by September 2015. And FedEx founder Fred Smith has been a vocal proponent of the FedEx's fleet's conversion to unmanned vehicles, on grounds of cost, efficiency, and safety. The paper boys and girls of France may be some of the first package-deliverers to have their jobs transformed by drones. But they won't be the last.





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