Automated Drone Deliveries Carried Out Under Actual Conditions
From January to March 2016, a drone delivered sporting goods and medication to a station in the Bavarian commune of Reit im Winkl, Germany, for a total of 130 loading and unloading cycles.
DHL Parcel carried out the test with its third generation Parcelcopter. The modified drone made deliveries in a mountain environment which presented true “geographical and meteorological challenges” that forced developers to overcome rapid weather and temperature variations.
This apparently makes DHL the first package delivery company to integrate a drone into its supply chain and offer drone deliveries to the end customer.
Clients were invited to test the service by dropping off their packages at the "Parcelcopter Skyport," thus triggering the automated delivery. Fully automated loading and unloading processes took place in stations that were specially designed for the project.
Each round trip between the valley and the plateau represented an 8 km flight at some 1,200 metres above sea level. The flight lasted 8 minutes, compared to over 30 minutes for road deliveries in winter.
DHL parcelcopter Crédit Photo: Deutsche Post DHL Group
A Step Closer to Testing in Urban Areas?
According to DHL, a member of the Deutsche Post DHL Group, which defines itself as the world's leading mail and logistics services Group, the success of the project was largely due to the support of the Reit im Winkl officials and of the civil aviation authorities. Thus, the Federal Ministry for Transportation and digital infrastructure (BMVI) also established a special flight zone while the Aviation Authority for the Region of Upper Bavaria provided the required flight clearances.
In its release, DHL explains having taken all the necessary precautions, with the officials from the community of Reit im Winkl, to ensure that the deliveries were carried out safely and without any uninterruptions.
DHL believes that thanks to fully automated loading and offloading as well as increased payloads and range, their drone technologies have attained “a level of technical and procedural maturity to eventually allow for field trials in urban areas.”
Luis Robert | Analyst- Arsha Consulting