According to The Australian Financial Review, people living in rural and regional Australia may soon be able to receive packages from unmanned drones, but don't expect the same service in towns and cities until the technology "improves dramatically".
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority says it's working closely with several organisations on trials involving transporting and delivering packages by drone.
"That's certainly underway," CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said. "It will certainly start happening in non-urban environments first because the challenges of the urban environment don't exist if you're out in the bush."
At present, unlicensed drone operators are limited to flying 30 meters away from people and property, maintaining visual line of sight and not flying at night. However, accredited operators can seek exemptions from the rules based on a safety case.
"The three main risks the regulations seek to deal with are protecting people, property and other aircraft from drones. So, the rules as they stand at the moment effectively create buffer zones," Mr Gibson said.
"If the technology improves dramatically," he added, "then that's the point where you get to say the regulations need to reflect now that the capability of the drones has changed and allows them to manage these risks successfully."
As to drone deliveries in towns and cities, "it's in the future obviously, no one suggesting it's not coming, but when that is, who knows."
Australia Post is one company developing a drone delivery system for rural and regional Australia and has already conducted successful trials.
"Since our closed-field trial with CASA in April 2016, we are working toward conducting further trials this year to test real customer deliveries outside confined areas to assess commercial application," Australia Post chief technology officer Tien-Ti Mak said.
"If given permission for these customer trials, we would like to examine capabilities that are not currently permitted by CASA without specific exemption."
Using drones as delivery vehicles has drawn significant media attention and interest in drones for commercial use. Drone training provider Total RPA has seen strong demand for its remote pilot training courses, but sometimes there's a reality check.
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