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DHL launches its first regular urban drone delivery service

Drone service covers a distance of 8km between the customer premises and DHL's service centre

Drone service covers a distance of 8km between the customer premises and DHL’s service centre

International express delivery service provider, DHL Express, and intelligent autonomous aerial vehicle company, EHang, have entered into a strategic partnership to jointly launch a fully automated and intelligent smart drone delivery solution to tackle the last-mile delivery challenges in the urban areas of China.

The new customised route, which has been exclusively created for a DHL customer, covers a distance of approximately 8km between the customer premises and the DHL service centre in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

Reduces delivery time

Using the most advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in EHang’s newly-launched Falcon series, the 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 and can save costs of up to 80 per cent per delivery, with reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint compared with road transportation.

“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. “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.”

The EHang Falcon smart drone, with eight propellers on four arms, 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.

“This marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities”

As a fully-automated and intelligent solution, the drones, which 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.

“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 start-ups,” 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.”

Given the growing prominence of B2C business operations and delivery in China, employing drones in express delivery services offers an innovative solution for meeting the increasing demands for time-sensitive delivery, particularly for last-mile delivery in urban areas.

DHL will continue to identify new routes that can be developed for clients in need of tailored customer services and logistics solutions and will work closely with EHang to create a second generation of drones in the near future that will further improve capacity and range in drone-operated express delivery.

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The intelligent cabinets specially developed for take-off and landing

The intelligent cabinets specially developed for take-off and landing


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