On its platform, the helicopter-style SH-350 drone receives a blue package in a pelican-case-style box. Tied tight into place, it rises with the drone over a field of snow. The tops of snow-covered trees are visible below, as the robotic letter carrier navigates the skies of the Siberian winter twilight. On delivery, a human opens the protecting case, and extracts the contents.
Drone delivery offers a chance to overcome the innate difficulties of regular resupply over difficult terrain, offering lessons for civilian and military logistics alike. In a release, the country’s postal service, the Russian Post, said it expects the use of drones along such routes to double the speed of delivery, increase the volume of freight traffic by 10, and at the same time reduce the cost of such logistics by half.
“The drone is tested in the most challenging environment in Russia. The country has vast territory, severe climate and sparsely-populated regions – putting down additional infrastructure like roads, highways and rail could be very expensive or even cost-prohibitive,” says Samuel Bendett, an analyst at the Center for Naval Analysis and adjunct senior fellow at the Center for New American Security. “Flying piloted aircraft like planes and helicopters could be expensive and dangerous – therefore, using a UAV is a perfect technical solution. Not much infrastructure is needed for this drone.”
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