Drones are nothing new to the logistics world. Almost every day there is a project announced, where drones are used for commercial purposes. Now, DHL claims to have become the first international express company to provide drone delivery services in China, deploying a ‘Falcon’ named UAV produced by local developer EHang.
The Guangdong region in southeast China, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Foshan, and Dongguan has become an Eldorado for medium-sized companies and start-ups. In recent times, the region has
developed into a first-class industrial cluster covering a wide range of economic activities.
Therefore, it is no surprise that 2014 established Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) producer in EHang’s settle there, started developing drones in Dongguan and testing their practicability under real conditions.
The company’s flagship product is a smart drone named ‘EHang Falcon’ equipped with eight propellers on four arms and designed with multiple systems for full backup and secure flight control.
Due to its superb technical capability and performance data this specific UAV has obviously impressed DHL-Sinotrans, a 1986 launched joined venture to provide logistics and express services to the Chinese market. Last week, the inaugural drone flight, which went successful, took over a distance of roughly eight kilometers connecting the service center of DHL-Sinotrans in the outskirts of Dongguan on a selected route with the premises of a local DHL client.
Upon the completion of the drone mission DHL proudly announced that the Deutsche Post daughter has become the first international express company to provide such a service in China. “It marks a new milestone in both companies’ continuous efforts to bring innovative and intelligent solutions with greater automation to the market,” reads their release.
The EHang Falcon drone is capable of carrying up to 5 kilograms 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 cabinets seamlessly 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.
Jack O'Neil, deputy managing director of DHL-Sinotrans and senior vice president of network operations of DHL Express China, said growing demand from Chinese customers for a smart delivery service was the reason behind the partnership with Ehang. Turning to EHang’s drones he lauded the cutting-edge technologies of the express Falcon UAVs, “which are reliable, safe and quick.” This goes hand in hand with government policies supporting the drone express service industry.
Further to this, the manager stated that China's e-commerce grew very fast in the past few years. Therefore, “we have seen a fast growth in demand for an intelligent delivery service," said Mr O'Neil.
According to DHL, the drone option will enhance their delivery capabilities. Given the growing prominence of B2C business in China, enhancing delivery services through drones is a trailblazer for meeting the increasing demands for tailored and time-sensitive services, particularly for last mile delivery in congested urban areas.
Cooperation for improved UAV services announced
Hu Huazhi, Founder and CEO of EHang stated that the start of the Falcon “marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities. 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.”
This intend was confirmed by DHL officials that announced to closely cooperate with EHang aimed at creating a second generation of drones in the near future that will further improve capacity and range in drone-operated express delivery.