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Startup Valqari Reinvents Mailboxes to Cater to Drone Deliveries

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【Summary】The startup's smart mailbox utilizes a flat, heavy-duty top, which serves as a landing pad for quadcopters. Valqari plans to develop drone-friendly mailboxes with heaters or coolers for receiving meals, groceries and medicine requiring refrigeration.

Michael Cheng    May 21, 2019 5:00 AM PT
Startup Valqari Reinvents Mailboxes to Cater to Drone Deliveries

The rise of drones is set to revolutionize large-scale delivery and shipping operations. At the moment, quadcopters are being developed to replace vehicles and workers on the ground.

Valqari, a startup that specializes in smart products for commercial drones, believes this technological transition could ultimately phase out traditional designs of mailboxes. To accommodate this shift, the company is building a new type of mailbox with a landing pad and connected features.

Smart Drone Delivery Mailbox

At first glance, the startup's smart mailbox looks like an ordinary household structure for receiving packages. The unit utilizes a flat, heavy-duty top, which serves as a landing pad for quadcopters. LED strip lights on the surface guides drones making deliveries and ensures visibility at night.

Furthermore, the assembly is protected by codes that can only be confirmed by the compact aircraft. The authentication numbers are used to verify the package, as well as send notifications to the courier service and resident of the home. Individuals are required to enter the code to open the mailbox using a keypad at the back of the unit.

"We knew the biggest hurdle facing drone delivery was that there was no standardized, safe and secure landing area," said Ryan Walsh, Co-founder of Valqari.

"As a result, we beat major global companies in developing the winning solution with our Smart Drone Delivery Mailbox."

The modern mailbox is equipped with connected functions to assist in communicating with quadcopters during flight. For navigation, drones typically use GPS to get to the customer's home from the warehouse. When the aircraft approaches the mailbox at the final stages of delivery, it will signal the unit within 100 feet.

Addressing Gaps in the Drone Market

Valqari's smart mailboxes have very practical benefits for homeowners and businesses. Landing drones on the side of roads, porches, landscapes and residential yards can cause disturbances or damage the surrounding area. Having a designated place, like a wide mailbox, for quadcopters to land would completely eliminate such risks. Protection for the package after delivery is another advantage to using drone-friendly mailboxes. Packages left out on the porch are prone to getting wet from rainy weather or damaged by pets.  

Interestingly, the company's mailbox can be setup on rooftops of commercial buildings, allowing local businesses to receive mail and small packages quickly. It could also be installed on vehicles for mobile deliveries, according to Valqari's vision for the versatile product.

"I saw a gap in the market," said Walsh.

"In 2013, we saw that no one else had developed this technology, which is why it was critical for us to put a stake in the ground by immediately applying for utility patents to make us the only smart mailbox option for commercial and residential use."

The startup is taking a standardized approach to developing its product. To date, it has received approval for utility patents in 13 countries including Australia and South Africa. Valqari plans to develop smart mailboxes with heaters or coolers for receiving meals, groceries and medicine requiring refrigeration.

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