Another day, another delivery drone.
This time real-world, point-to-point deliveries inEuropean weather.
Not only is this a good news story for DHL, but one for EuropeanRPA 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.
DHLstarted delivery trials in 2013 with multirotors, culminating in a 12 kilometerBLOS 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 morecomplicated than an SLT.
DHL Parcel have now successfully concluded a three-monthtest of its third-generation Parcelcopter.
The trial run, part of a larger research andinnovation project was conducted between January and March 2016 in Bavaria.
Itrepresents the first time that a parcel service provider has directly integrated a parcelcopterlogistically into its delivery chain.
Private customers in Bavaria were invited totest out the specially developed pack stations, dubbed the Parcelcopter Skyport.
Duringa three month trial period they could simply insert the shipments into theSkyport to initiate automated shipment and delivery by Parcelcopter.
A total of ahundred and thirty autonomous loading and offloading cycles were ultimatelyperformed.
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 andmeteorological challenges.
The first task was to master the rapidly changing weatherconditions and severe temperature fluctuations in the test area.
Withthat achieved, the DHL Parcelcopter then performed a series of flawless flights.
Each round trip from valley to plateau atroughly 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 30minutes 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 fullyautomated loading and unloading as well as an increased transport load and range.
With Parcelcopter we have achieved a level of technical and procedure maturity toeventually 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 analyzingperformance data and other insights from the trial, together with its R&D partner.
The findings willbe used to select other potential areas for testing.
The success of the projectreflects an outstanding partnership with both community in Bavaria and alsothe relevant civil oversight agencies, the Federal Ministry for Transportation, BMVI,established restricted flight zones specifically for this research project andthe aviation authority for the region of upper Bavaria provided the necessary flightclearances.
Together with officials from the community all details are worked outto ensure that the project race safely and an interrupted at all times.