This is what we call being “pipped to the post”. DHL, the German group specializing in the transportation of goods, has just begun deliveries of packages by drone and, in so doing, takes Amazon and Google by surprise.
DHL’s main asset over its competitors is that it has, and this is a first in Europe, the approval of the German civil aviation authorities to use this quadri-copter, although in a very specific context.
Between the German port of Norddeich and the island of Juist, located in the North Sea 12 kilometres (7,5 miles) offshore, an air corridor has actually been reserved for this drone. Launched last December, the project aims to deliver drugs and other basic necessities, by air to the 1,700 islanders when the ferries are confined to port, for example. Which is one way of evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of such deliveries in sparsely populated and remote areas in the event of cyclones or earthquakes.
Developed by a company called Microdrones, the "Parcelcopter" is packed with automated take off, flight and landing functions. The miniature U.A.V., which is sea air, dust and snow resistant, can carry a payload of up to 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) in its sealed container, and operates at an altitude of 50 metres (almost 215 ft) at a cruising speed of 65 km/h (40 miles/h) with an autonomy of 45 minutes.
DHL intends to test the delivery of other types of payload for several months before moving on perhaps, to higher things.