Meet the Mail Carrier of the Future

PHOTO: Swiss Post tests a drone that could be used to deliver urgently needed goods to hard-to-reach places, July 7, 2015, in Bas-Vully, SwitzerlandJean-Christophe Bott/EPA
Swiss Post tests a drone that could be used to deliver urgently needed goods to hard-to-reach places, July 7, 2015, in Bas-Vully, Switzerland.

This could be the way mail is delivered in the not-so-distant future.

Switzerland's postal service kicked off a month-long test this week to use drones for parcel deliveries.

While officials said the full scale commercial use of drones isn't set for at least five more years, they hope the tests will allow them to figure out the limitations of flying postal carriers.

The initial drone model being used is extremely light and is able to carry loads of around two pounds a little more than six miles on a single battery charge, according to a statement from Swiss Post. The drone flies autonomously and follows flight plans laid out in cloud software.

"Until the time of their realistic commercial use in around five years, there are various requirements which need to be clarified. This includes the regulatory framework," a Swiss Post statement said. "In addition, there are technical restrictions with the drones of today, such as limited battery life."

The postal service said it foresees the drones being useful in extreme situations, such as bringing supplies to storm-ravaged areas and transporting precious, high priority cargo such as laboratory tests.

Last year DHL began delivering packages via drone to Juist, a remote island off the northwestern coast of Germany. DHL said the flights marked the first time a pilotless plane has been allowed to make regular commercial flights in Europe.