Delivery drones remain a distant dream

Delivery drones remain a distant dream

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The Deutsche Post DHL Group will not continue its “Parcelcopter” project. This is not a swan song for the technology as a whole, but regulations and high costs are currently preventing the technology from being used.

The idea is not new, but has electrified technology and logistics experts for decades: What if you could bring materials or packages across natural barriers by drone to the local people much faster and more cheaply?In the past few years, parcel delivery in areas that are difficult to access or sparsely populated has caused fantasies, not least the initiative of the US internet giant Amazon, which actually wanted to deliver parcels by drone a few years ago under the label “Prime Air”. That has not happened so far, and the US company is keeping a low profile on the reasons. Most recently, unconfirmed reports of serious problems at Prime Air in Great Britain raised the question of how things are going with the projects in this country.

DHL is not planning any further projects

As the “Welt am Sonntag” found out on request, Deutsche Post DHL had long since buried its own delivery project. The “Paketkopter” development project will not be continued and no new projects are currently planned, a company spokesman confirmed. The last pilot project for sending medicines in Tanzania together with the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the drone manufacturer Wingcopter took place in 2018. The previous information on the “Paketkopter” on the group’s website would be adjusted accordingly.

Regulatory requirements and cost reasons

Several reasons led to the discontinuation of the projects, regulatory requirements and cost aspects were two of the main ones, the spokesman explained. For example, the company had to register each drone flight individually for a drug delivery project on the island of Juist. Nevertheless, the test projects brought valuable insights, the spokesman said. Experience with the technologies and project partners used could be useful for future ideas.

No rejection of drone technology

Incidentally, the end of parcel delivery by drone does not mean that the logistics group will say goodbye to the technology as a whole. The use of drones in warehousing or the delivery of spare parts in China would be pursued further, the spokesman emphasized.The time does not seem to be ripe for delivery drones in Germany. The high regulatory hurdles, especially in densely populated regions with their high-security requirements, are likely to dampen the imagination in this country in the long term.


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