Just last week we saw how Amazon wants to deliver small packages using drones, and today the DHL Express division of Germany's Deutsche Post jumped on the bandwagon by demonstrating its own postal delivery drone.
Unlike Amazon's announcement where we only saw some promo footage of the drone dropping off a package at a house, the DHL press demonstration included an actual drone delivering medicines from a pharmacy across the Rhine river, to the main DHL office building in Bonn. The flight took about two minutes, and topped out at around 150 feet in altitude. Unlike the autonomous GPS-guided drones proposed by Amazon, the DHL Paketkopter was flown by two technicians on the ground, and required special clearance from the German aviation authorities. DHL says that GPS guidance is in the future for its service too, but for the demonstration they decided to play it safe.
As with the Amazon plan, aviation regulations will play a key role in whether the drones ever get off the ground. There are also plenty of other questions about how this type of service would work on a practical level too. For example, how are they going to deliver packages to those of us who live in apartment buildings without a convenient outdoor landing area?
DHL says that they plan to focus their drone program on the delivery of critical medicines, but made no prediction of when the service could begin. DHL now joins Amazon and UPS in exploring potential drone delivery systems for the future.
Check out the video to see the end of the test flight, with the Paketkopter delivering its cargo of medicines to the DHL office in Bonn.