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Australia's postal service is testing drone deliveries

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Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Following the example set by AmazonGoogle, and Danish shipping giant Maersk, Australia's national postal service is planning to use drones to make deliveries. Australia Post is currently in the midst of a two-week test — with the blessing of the country's Civil Aviation Safety Authority — that, if successful, could see some customers receiving their packages from the skies later this year as part of a consumer trial.

A consumer trial may start as soon as this year

Australia Post's big retail customers are keen to be involved in such a trial, the Sydney Morning Herald says, but the advent of drone deliveries could also be good news for Australians who live in rural areas, or for people whose mailboxes are sometimes miles from their front doors. First though, the limited trial would use the drones to deliver twice a week to 50 locations "in an outer metropolitan location," Australia Post's Ben Franzi explained. The company is working with the country's regulatory body for aviation safety during the two-week trial, shortly before relaxed rules for commercial drone operators, largely designed to assist farmers using them on private property, come into force in September.

The drones in question are built by Australian company ARI Labs, and come with a parachute and warning lights, as well as a camera so the drone's operator can spot oncoming obstacles. Those measures should help the drones avoid danger, but Australia Post CEO Ahmed Farour said that although the company hoped to get the drones delivering before the end of 2016, they would only start shipping parcels "once we are 100 percent sure that it's safe and reliable."