Robot wars: Parcel firm DHL tests drone deliveries

10 Dec 2013

DHL follows Amazon with drone tests, but deliveries to consumers not yet planned

Postal giant Deutsche Post DHL completed its first successful drone delivery yesterday, using a robot craft to deliver a 3kg medicine package.

The yellow "Paketkopter" flew at a height of 50m across the Rhine, carrying the package from a pharmacist in Bonn to the DHL head office approximately 1km away.

"We are at the beginning of the research project," said DHL manager Ole Nordhoff, according to The Local. "It is an exciting bit of technology."

DHL's stunt comes after Amazon boss Jeff Bezos showed off prototype delivery drones on the CBS show 60 Minutes last week.

Bezos unveiled the Amazon Prime Air delivery service, boasting that drones could be delivering packages within the next few years - provided the company can overcome the numerous regulatory and technical hurdles.

DHL said it had permission from local aviation authorities to run the test flights, but that they were simply part of a trial. There are no plans to offer deliveries by drone to consumers just yet, the company said.

"In the context of this future-orientated innovation project, we are considering particularly urgent deliveries such as drug supply or deliveries via parcel copter to areas that are geographically difficult to access," a spokesperson told The Verge. "However, we do not have specific plans to use the parcel copter in our regular parcel delivery operations at present."

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