You’ve Got Drone Mail

Many drone delivery services involve dropping packages on the ground outside of homes and businesses, making them vulnerable to theft and bad weather. That’s where the smart drone mailbox comes in.

These new mailbox concepts, developed by startups Valqari and DRONEDEK, involve a technology-enabled container that receives and stores packages in a secure, climate-controlled box accessible only by the recipient, who does not have to be present to receive a package securely.

Packages are loaded into a container, then flown to the location guided by GPS coordinates. Once the drone is within 100 feet of the smart mailbox, it begins an authentication process. Then the drone lands on the mailbox, delivers the package, and notifies both the shipper and the recipient. The recipient communicates with the smart drone mailbox via a phone-based app.

The mailboxes are "drone agnostic" and compatible with traditional delivery services from FedEx, Amazon Prime, or the U.S. Postal Service.

Valqari and DRONEDEK are in the early stages of developing their mailbox concepts. To address potential COVID-19 contamination of package surfaces, both companies say they may include an ultraviolet package sterilization feature.

Valqari is focusing initially on community boxes that serve many customers and handle multiple deliveries. It is also developing a stand-alone residential unit and a window-attached unit for high-rise apartment buildings.

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