By Latrishka Thomas
Antigua Computer Technology (ACT), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and Trade and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) are collaborating with Airbox Technologies to develop a new system that will revolutionise postal deliveries across Antigua and Barbuda.
Through this partnership, residents of the twin island will be able to send and receive packages via drones and, according to ACT’s Business Development Manager, Andrew Doumith, this technology will have a sizeable impact on the local population and economy.
“What this would allow us to do in Antigua is it will disrupt the entire economy. It will improve the quality of lives of all of our people. It will also create hundreds of new jobs in Antigua. And what it allows is for every home and business to finally have an end point address where they will be able to, not just accept deliveries of any commodity – whether it be food from restaurants, groceries, retail products, or even medical supplies – but also to accept these deliveries in a very secure, safe fashion,” Doumith said.
Yesterday, officials gathered to witness a demonstration of ACT Airbox drone deliveries from the Clare Hall Secondary School playing field to a field opposite the Epicurean Supermarket. After witnessing two test flights, Senior Advisor to the Minister of Trade and the Manager of UNOPS Antigua, Winston Williams, shared his thoughts on the project.
“Airbox delivery services is an opportunity that Antigua and Barbuda can benefit from on so many levels. Just being here today, just being the first Caribbean island that this project is being tested in is great. Secondly, the fact that local companies such as ACT not only thought of getting involved, but have actually put their own personal resources in it as well, investing in it,” Williams added.
The mastermind behind the Airbox and the CEO of the drone delivery system, Brandon Pargoe, also shared some details behind this innovation, saying that his “initial intention in the invention of Airbox was so that 70 percent of the world [could] receive home delivery which does not have a postal network currently built out.
“So, with this smart box technology, we can not only increase our postal delivery with over 4 billion people, but also, we’ve incorporated technology of drone aviation where we can deliver goods as well,” Pargoe said.
The Airboxes which, on the surface, have the same features as a typical mail box, use solar technology and an app to operate.
The built-in technology allows for drones to open and close the boxes when delivering a package. The drones used were designed for military purposes and can therefore carry large weights and operate without human intervention.
Also, according to Doumith, each subscriber will have a unique three-word mailing address that will make deliveries simpler.
Doumith said the goal is to make this service accessible to all at a cost-effective rate by the first or second quarter of next year.
Also present at the demonstration were representatives from the Air Traffic Control department and the drone committee, who ensured that the entire operation was in tandem with the flow of aircraft in and out of Antigua.