Canada Post looks at unmanned drones as it considers the future of

OTTAWA – It’s a little early to tell if the idea will fly, but Canada Post is starting to look at the role of drones in making deliveries.The post office is quietly exploring the possibility of small, unmanned aerial vehicles one day helping get the mail to where it needs to go, said Jon Hamilton, a Canada Post spokesman.“We are in a competitive space, especially when it comes to parcel delivery and things like that,” Hamilton said in an interview.In the post office’s 250-year history, the manner of getting letters and parcels to Canadians has evolved from a couple of horses to trains, trucks and planes — so it makes sense to eye lightweight, remote-controlled aircraft, he said.“We do look into these things.”Why Canada Post is better off giving tattoos than banking servicesNew landmark rules in U.S. means more drones for hire on the wayWal-Mart Stores Inc tests drones in U.S. distribution centre, wants to eventually use for home deliveryThe tiny flying machines have become immensely popular with hobbyists. But they’re also used for a variety of government-related and commercial applications, including agricultural surveys, movie shoots, police investigations, meteorology, and search and rescue.Canada Post declined to release documents through the Access to Information Act about its interest in drones, citing sensitivities such as trade secrets and financial, commercial, scientific or technical data.But Hamilton insists there are no drone prototypes in the post office laboratory — at least not yet.He characterized the effort as a “paper exercise” at the very early exploratory stages, aimed at “examining what’s out there today.”“Is it at a point yet where it’s worth doing anything concrete in terms of testing? And so far, no,” Hamilton said.“It’s not something that Canadians are going to see any time soon, if at all.”Still, Canada Post is conscious that companies such as online retailer Amazon are actively investigating delivery drones.“It may be something that has applications for the postal service,” Hamilton said. “But it may be something that is just more of an emerging threat to the existing postal business, and how do we respond to that?”Amazon bills Prime Air as a future service that will deliver packages weighing up to five pounds in 30 minutes or less using small drones. The company says it has developed more than a dozen vehicle designs, with testing under way in multiple international locales, including British Columbia.With the growth of online shopping, Canada Post is grappling with the challenges of delivering more parcels to almost 16 million addresses across the country.For the moment, the Crown corporation is focusing on better using its network of 13,000 vehicles and 6,000 post offices to get the mail to customers. That means using online technology to help people track parcels, testing same-day delivery in some major markets and offering flexible delivery options.Canada Post realizes technology is accelerating a lot faster these days, and “as things change we continue to look at new options,” Hamilton said.“There was a lot of time between moving from horses to trains. Things don’t move that slowly anymore.” read more

M23 rebel fighters enter the city of Goma in eastern DR Congo

“The situation in and around Goma has reached a critical stage,” added the spokesperson, Eduardo Del Buey. “The M23 military advances have continued despite the demands of the Security Council, the Secretary-General, the African Union and others including countries in the region, for the M23 to immediately stop their attacks.” Addressing a news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, he added, “Reports indicate that the M23 has wounded civilians, continued abductions of children and women, destroyed and looted property, and intimidated journalists and those who have attempted to resist their control.”Mr. Del Buey noted that the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) is closely monitoring the situation, with its peacekeepers in control of Goma’s airport, and conducing patrols. “MONUSCO troops will remain actively present in Goma and will continue all efforts within their capabilities to protect civilians from imminent threat,” the spokesperson said.The M23 – composed of soldiers who mutinied from the DRC national army in April – launched new attacks over the weekend in North Kivu province, of which Goma is the capital, uprooting some 60,0000 civilians and prompting MONUSCO to deploy attack helicopters in aid of the national army, known by the French acronym FARDC. Mr. del Buey said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterates his strong condemnation of the M23’s violations of international humanitarian and human rights law that have accompanied its military advance. “The Secretary-General underlines that those who commit violations will be held responsible for their actions,” he added.Earlier Tuesday, UN humanitarian agencies expressed concern over the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the affected areas in eastern DRC, while the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, voiced concern over reported human rights violations against civilians there. read more