DHL beats Amazon and Google with regular drone delivery

The service will use an autonomous quadcopter to deliver small parcels to the German island of Juist, a sandbar island 12km into the North Sea from the German coast, inhabited by 2,000 people. Deliveries will include medication and other goods that may be “urgently needed”.

Flying under 50 meters to avoid entering regulated air traffic corridors, the drone takes a fully automated route to a dedicated landing area on Juist. “From there,” the company says, “a DHL courier will then deliver the goods to the recipient. To optimally secure the goods during transport, DHL Parcel developed a special air-transport container that is extremely lightweight as well as weather- and waterproof.”

There are still hitches to overcome. Although the flight is automated, the parcelcopter will be “constantly monitored” by a ground station on the German mainland for safety reasons, and to ensure compliance with the nation’s regulations. The ground station will also liaise with air traffic control.

Nonetheless, the company is taking orders for the parcelcopter’s regular flights, which islanders can place at the island’s pharmacy. The scheduled flights will focus on times when conventional ways of delivering packaged, such as ferries and manned flights, are not available.


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