DHL is one step closer to automated drone delivery with the successful completion of a three-month’s-long test of its third generation “Parcelcopter.”
Testing took place between January and March of 20-16 in Bavaria, Germany. It’s part of a larger research and innovation project that began in 20-13 when DHL’s first drone delivered medication from one bank of the Rhine river in Bonn to the other.
DHL’s latest Parcelcopter is much more advanced. It’s able to automatically load and unload packages with the help of a “Skyport,” which can be thought of a combination mailbox and helipad. During testing, private customers were able to insert their shipments into a Skyport to automatically initiate shipment and delivery.
Other improvements to the Parcelcopter include its ability to carry heavier loads, travel longer distances, and operate in harsher weather conditions.
According to DHL, the Parcelcopter successfully completed 130 deliveries, flying 8 kilometers at an altitude of 1,200 meters during every trip. It’s a journey that takes 30 minutes by car. The Parcelcopter did it in 8.
DHL is not the only company hoping to use drones for delivery purposes. Amazon and Google are testing their own drones, and UPS has partnered with start-up company, Zipline, which hopes to use its drone to deliver vaccines and blood to remote areas in Rwanda starting in July.
DHL says its focus is on using the technology for logistical purposes, transporting goods under real conditions to remote or geographically challenging areas. The company has not said when the service would be commercially available.