DHL trialling drone deliveries in China

DHL has launched a partnership with the Chinese unmanned systems developer EHang to produce a fully automated drone delivery service in China. The plan involves using an EHang Falcon vertical take-offand landing system to operate a delivery service along what the company called a “customised route, exclusively created for a DHL customer”, covering approximately four miles (8km) between the customer premises and the DHL service centre in Liaobu, Guangdong Province.

The Falcon system has multiple redundant systems and secure flight control modules, DHL said, adding its GPS and visual identification systems will allow for, “smart flight path planning, fully-automated flight and real-time network connection and scheduling”.

The system will be able to carry up to 5kg (11lb) of cargo per flight and will operate from what DHL calls “intelligent cabinets”, or physical platforms specifically developed for autonomous loading and unloading. The company said: “The intelligent cabinets seamlessly connect with automated processes including sorting, scanning and storage of express mail and will feature high-tech functions such as facial recognition and ID scanning.”

DHL will be the first international express delivery company to provide such a service in China and said it would enhance its delivery capabilities.

Wu Dongming, Chief Executive Officer of DHL Express China, commented: “There is a tremendous volume of logistics needs, which in turn creates new opportunities for implementing innovative solutions that can continuously drive growth with greater efficiency, sustainability and less cost.”

The company says it sees a future for unmanned systems, “for meeting the increasing demands for timesensitive delivery, particularly for last mile delivery in urban areas”.

DHL is trialling cargo delivery by drone in China.