back to article Japan Post closer to replacing snail mail with autonomous drones

Japan Post is closer to realizing its ambition of delivering letters – like actual, physical letters – by drone. It's futuristic and retro all at once. The postal service announced [PDF in Japanese] its drone delivery plans in December 2022, revealing that it had teamed with a local drone-maker named ACSL that offers a craft …

  1. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I'm happy to see my postman or postwoman regularly, have a chat, a human relationship. It helps when there are small deliveries problems, it eases the processes.

    All of this will disappear with drones, and this will create more local unemployment, replaced by drone makers exploited in China. I don't see that as a progress but a regression, going through a more and more dehumanized society.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Can't see drones being able to deliver letters. With up to 5 kilos that could easily be 400 letters, unless they let customers rummage around for theirs having a mechanism to sort out the correct envelopes (of non-standard sizes) would be rather tricky.

      For letters in remote regions I suspect they'd use a drone to replace the van driving up a mountain with a few hundred letters to deliver them to a local posty who would deal with the "last mile".

      For parcels it should be OK as posties don't like lugging multi-kilo packages up a mountain either.

  2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    "our pilots can oversee fleets..."

    One pilot per drone, or one pilot per fleet?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "our pilots can oversee fleets..."

      Whatever it is, they're winging it.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "our pilots can oversee fleets..."

      One overseeing the fleet would presumably be the Wing Commander.


  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Good luck with letter boxes

    I occasionally distribute flyers for my local community group. Getting paper into a letter box can be hard. Many if what I call 'letterbox fur' - some sort of draft excluder that blocks the inside. Pushing paper through that is difficult. Other letter boxes have different challenges.

    Posting to just the easy ones is not good enough.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Good luck with letter boxes

      I don't see the problem here.

      Totally unrelated, a silly joke I've heard 40ish years ago: "I developed a automated machine to do hair cuts. - But how can this work? Not everyone has the same head shape! - Well, afterwards they do."

    2. Nafesy

      Re: Good luck with letter boxes

      I can only assume the drones will be fitted with a standard log splitter attachment to remove those pesky doors...

  4. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    It's not a nice way to call postie an autonomous drone.

  5. IGotOut Silver badge


    10s of thousands of screeching craft whizzing round, that should help drive Japan's suicide and murder rates up.

  6. Tron Silver badge

    Won't work.

    They can't post your letters through a letter box, they can't open doors and slip them in internal apartment letter boxes, they can't do 'signed for', they won't cope with Japan's external street furniture, cables, PA networks playing the 5pm chime every evening (google it), and if they fly low enough they will eventually do 'helicopter rotor blade' injuries to cars, people, dogs, windows etc.

    They will be useful for delivering to remote locations that can set up suitable landing sites (not easy, as they will need protection from the weather, but access for a drone) and for emergency supplies after quakes.

    They will be useless at noting the ill health or distress of elderly people on postal rounds.

    People who think everyone is going to switch over to the 'new normal', pivot to digital or do everything by app (or that everyone wants to) are wrong and should be sacked before they embarrass your company and mess up your bottom line. Any change will be to hybrid usage and will cost more in the short term, not less.

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