DHL Express launches urban drone delivery in China

May 22, 2019
By UAV Canada Staff
The The EHang Falcon drone deployed by DHL can carry up to 5kg of cargo per flight, taking off and landing via intelligent cabinets that connect with processes like sorting, scanning and storage of express mail – with the potential for facial recognition and ID scanning. (Photo: DHL Express)
The The EHang Falcon drone deployed by DHL can carry up to 5kg of cargo per flight, taking off and landing via intelligent cabinets that connect with processes like sorting, scanning and storage of express mail – with the potential for facial recognition and ID scanning. (Photo: DHL Express)
Global delivery service provider DHL Express has entered into a strategic partnership with EHang of China to jointly launch what it describes as fully automated drone technology for delivery. The companies will also build new techonlogies focusing on the last-mile delivery challenges in the urban areas of China.

A launch ceremony for a specific DHL customer using the initial technology was held on May 16 at the EHang Command and Control Center in Guangzhou, making DHL the first international express company to provide such a service in China.

“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,” said Wu Dongming, CEO, DHL Express China. “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.”

The new customized route, which has been exclusively created for a DHL customer, covers a distance of approximately eight kilometres between the customer premises and the DHL service centre in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in EHang’s newly launched Falcon series, DHL explains this drone delivery solution overcomes the complex road conditions and traffic congestion common to urban areas. It reduces one-way delivery time from 40 minutes to only eight minutes, according to DHL, and can save costs of up to 80 per cent for each delivery.

“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,” said Hu Huazhi, founder and CEO of EHang. “Riding on today’s launch, we expect smart drone delivery as an innovative logistics solution to be expanded and realized in more areas.”

The EHang Falcon drone, with eight propellers on four arms, is designed with multiple redundant systems for full backup and secure flight control modules. EHang explains the drone includes high accuracy GPS and visual identification, smart flight path planning, fully automated flight and real-time network connection and scheduling.

The drones can carry up to 5kg of cargo per flight, take off and land atop intelligent cabinets that were specifically developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of the shipment. The intelligent cabinets connect with automated processes including sorting, scanning and storage of express mail, and will feature high-tech functions such as facial recognition and ID scanning.

Building on the launch of its first fully automated drone delivery solution in China, DHL states it will continue to identify new routes that can be developed for clients; and work closely with EHang to create a second generation of drones to improve capacity and range.

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