DHL has launched its first urban drone delivery service in China.
Working with autonomous aerial vehicle company EHang, the company deployed a fully automated drone for an 8km route in Guangzhou.
An employee scans a barcode on the parcel and then places it in one of DHL’s intelligent cabinets. The EHang Falcon eight-propeller drone then takes the parcel on a customised route to the company’s service centre and automatically lands on another cabinet.
DHL said the service reduces one-way delivery time from 40 minutes to eight minutes and can save up to 80% per delivery.
The company plans to add new routes in the future but did not specify whether or when this service would be available to other customers.
Wu Dongming, CEO at DHL Express China, said the project had “set a new innovation milestone” and that the solution “combines the strength of the world’s largest international express company together with one of the leading UAV companies in the world.”
“This is an exciting time for the logistics sector, with continued growth of the Chinese economy and cross-border trade, particularly in South China and the Greater Bay Area, which is home to an increasing number of SMEs and startups.
“This means 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.”
Hu Huazhi, CEO of EHang, said, “Together with DHL we are very glad to bring the first smart drone delivery service route to China in Guangzhou; this marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities.
“Riding on today’s launch, we expect smart drone delivery as an innovative logistics solution to be expanded and realised in more areas, and we look forward to working with DHL in building the eco-system for a multi-dimensional urban air transport system.”
UPS recently used a drone to deliver medical supplies on a hospital campus in the US city of Raleigh.
In 2017, UPS conducted a delivery in a rural area by drone. A UPS driver loaded a package into the cage and pressed a button on a touch screen, sending the drone on a preset autonomous route to an address.