DHL, one of the pioneers in drone delivery services, recently shared results of its latest testing for the Parcelcopter, revealing that it outperforms a car.
The vertical takeoff and landing craft can rotate the engines 90 degrees and fly straight from point to point, according to Popular Science. In tests in the Bavarian Alps in Germany, the Parcelcopter drone made it to a special drop-off point in only 8 minutes, compared to the half-hour it takes in a car. Testing is continuing.
“We’re the first worldwide who are able to offer a transport drone — Parcelcopter at DHL — for end-customer delivery. With this combination of fully automated loading and unloading, as well as an increased transport load and range of our Parcelcopter, we have achieved a level of technical and procedural maturity to eventually allow for field trials in urban areas as well,” said DHL manager Jürgen Gerdes.
The Parcelcopter has a range of up to 5 miles and has been tested flying at altitudes above 1,600 feet. Once it gets up in the air, the drone flies at 40 mph and can carry up to 4.4 pounds. In this testing, with actual customers, DHL made 130 deliveries. The drones cannot land in your backyard, however. They make the deliveries to specially built “skyports” that have a small helipad on top and mailbox-style lockers from which customers retrieve their packages.
The concept of a neighborhood or village drop-off point where packages can be securely stored makes a lot of sense. It answers questions about how a drone will know if you’re home and what it will do if you’re not.
Other companies are testing drone delivery in various settings and countries, including Amazon, Google, Flirtey, and the Australian postal service. DHL’s leadership in Europe, especially testing in inclement weather in the mountains, adds to the growing body of knowledge on the field.