DHL Express and EHang have agreed a strategic partnership to jointly operate a fully automated and intelligent smart drone that can undertake last-mile delivery in urban areas of China, reports Air Cargo News.
The EHang drone has already taken its inaugural flight for a DHL customer, making DHL the first international express company to provide such a service in China. The launch ceremony was held last week at the EHang Command and Control Center in Guangzhou.
“We are delighted to be partnering with EHang to set a new innovation milestone with this new fully-automated and intelligent drone logistics solution, which combines the strength of the world’s largest international express company together with one of the leading UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] companies in the world,” said Wu Dongming, chief executive of DHL Express China.
“This is an exciting time for the logistics sector, with continued growth of the Chinese economy and cross-border trade, particularly in South China and the Greater Bay Area, which is home to an increasing number of SMEs and start-ups,” he added.
“This means there is a tremendous volume of logistics needs, which in turn creates new opportunities for implementing innovative solutions that can continuously drive growth with greater efficiency, sustainability and less cost,” said Dongming.
The EHang Falcon smart drone has eight propellers on four arms. It is designed with multiple redundant systems for full back-up capability, smart and secure flight control vertical take-off and landing, highly accurate GPS, smart flight path planning, and fully automated flight and real-time network connection and scheduling.
The drone can carry up to 5kg of cargo, and takes off and lands on what are described as ‘intelligent cabinets’ that were specifically developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of the cargo.
The intelligent cabinets seamlessly connect with automated processes including sorting, scanning and storage of express mail, and are in future expected to feature high-tech functions such as facial recognition and ID scanning.