Global delivery company DHL Express is working with Chinese vehicle company EHang to develop a fully automated drone delivery service for last-mile delivery in urban China.
The companies customized an 8 kn test route between the DHL service center in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province and the delivery destination in urban parts of the city. DHL said that the drone delivery service reduces one-way delivery time from 40 minutes to only eight minutes by avoiding complex road conditions and traffic congestion. Additionally, drones can save costs up to 80% per delivery with reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint compared with road transportation.
The drone used in the service will be EHang’s Falcon smart drone, a vertical take-off and landing, eight-propeller UAV with smart and secure flight modules, GPS and visual identification, smart flight path planning, automated flight, redundant systems and real-time network connection and scheduling.
DHL said the drones can carry cargo up to 5 kg per flight, can land and take off from intelligent cabinets and feature autonomous shipment loading. The intelligent cabinets were developed by DHL to help automate sorting, scanning and storage of express mail and include functions such as facial recognition and ID scanning.
The growth of e-commerce and delivery is likely to expand in the coming years with drone delivery expected to meet the increasing demands for time-sensitive deliveries, particularly in urban areas.
Drone delivery service is growing heavily with numerous startups emerging to take advantage of the new market. This includes Drone Delivery Canada, Matternet, Zipline, Flytrex, Workhorse Group and many more.
Likewise, big name vendors have been getting in on the act including the heavyweights of last-mile delivery such as FedEx, Google’s Wing, Airbus and Amazon. As a result of all these players getting involved in the drone delivery market, new methods for delivery are also cropping up that may bring additional sources of revenue for companies involved in this emerging market.