Delivery Drones, DHL steals UPS thunder

May 19, 2016  

Another day, another delivery drone.
This time
real-world, point-to-point deliveries in
European weather. Not only is this a good
news story for DHL, but one for European
RPA integration, showing yet again just
how far ahead of the USA, Europe is.
Last week
UPS announced a partnership with Zipline, to trial medical delivery flights in Rwanda.
DHL are already out there doing it. DHL
started delivery trials in 2013 with
multirotors, culminating in a 12 kilometer
BLOS flight to an island in the North Sea.
Not an SLT, but a bi-motor tilt-wing, think Canadair CL-84, the "Dynavert"
or the military V-22 Osprey. A little more
complicated than an SLT. DHL Parcel have now
successfully concluded a three-month

test of its third-generation Parcelcopter. The trial
run, part of a larger research and
innovation project was conducted between
January and March 2016 in Bavaria .It
represents the first time that a parcel
service provider has directly integrated a parcelcopter

logistically into its delivery chain. Private
customers in Bavaria were invited to
test out the specially developed pack
stations, dubbed the Parcelcopter Skyport. During
a three month trial period they could
simply insert the shipments into the
Skyport to initiate automated shipment

and delivery by Parcelcopter. A total of a
hundred and thirty autonomous loading
and offloading cycles were ultimately
performed. As part of the trial the
technically upgraded vehicle was able to deliver with heavier loads, longer distances, and deliver to an Alpine
region notable for its geographical and
meteorological challenges. The first task was
to master the rapidly changing weather
conditions and severe temperature
fluctuations in the test area. With
that achieved, the DHL Parcelcopter then performed a series of flawless flights.
Each round trip from valley to plateau at
roughly 1200 metres above sea level
covered eight kilometres of flight. Drone's cargo was typically the sporting goods or
urgently needed medicines. And it arrived at the arms station within just eight
minutes of take-off.

The same trip by car takes more than 30
minutes during winter.
"We're the first worldwide who are able to offer a transport drone - Parcelcopter at DHL - for end-customer
delivery with this combination of fully
automated loading and unloading as well as
an increased transport load and range. With Parcelcopter we have achieved a level of
technical and procedure maturity to
eventually allow for field trials in urban
areas as well" said Jurgen Gerdes, Management Board Member for Post - eCommerce - Parcel at Deutsche Post DHL Group. In the
coming months DHL Parcel will be analyzing
performance data and other insights from the trial, together
with its R&D partner. The findings will
be used to select other potential areas
for testing. The success of the project
reflects an outstanding partnership with
both community in Bavaria and also
the relevant civil oversight agencies, the Federal
Ministry for Transportation, BMVI,
established restricted flight zones
specifically for this research project and
the aviation authority for the region of
upper Bavaria provided the necessary flight
clearances. Together with officials from
the community all details are worked out
to ensure that the project race safely
and an interrupted at all times