DHL debuts drone deliveries in China, with 5kg cargos and automated loading
German logistics company DHL has launched its first drone delivery solution for last-mile deliveries in urban areas of China, starting with flights in Guangzhou, the port city northwest of Hong Kong on the Pearl River.
DHL Express has signed a partnership with Cinese drone company EHang for the initiative. DHL is the first international express company to provide deliveries in by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) China.
A first customised delivery route covers a distance of eight kilometres between the customer premises and the DHL service centre in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province.
DHL said the new route reduces one-way delivery time from 40 minutes to only eight minutes and saves costs of up to 80 per cent per delivery, with reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint compared with road transportation.
Wu Dongming, chief executive of DHL Express China, said: “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, founder and chief at EHang, said: “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 realized in more areas, and we look forward to working with DHL in building the eco-system for a multi-dimensional urban air transport system.”
The pair are using EHang’s Falcon drone, which features eight propellers on four arms, and comes with multiple redundant systems for full backup, and smart and secure flight control modules.
It features vertical take-off and landing, high accuracy GPS and visual identification, smart flight path planning, fully-automated flight and real-time network connection and scheduling.
It can carry up to 5kg of cargo per flight, and takes off from and lands on special cabinets developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of shipments. The cabinets connect boast automated sorting, scanning and storage of express mail, and feature facial recognition and ID scanning.