DHL Express and EHang tackle the last mile with drones

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DHL Express has entered a strategic partnership with autonomous aerial vehicle company EHang to launch drone deliveries to tackle last mile challenges in China.

The launch ceremony was held on 16 May at the EHang Command and Control Center in Guangzhou with senior executives from both companies in attendance.

The customised route has been created exclusively for a DHL customer covers a distance of approximately eight kilometres between the customer premises and the DHL service centre in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province.

Using the most advance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in EHang’s Falcon series, the drone delivery overcomes complex road conditions and traffic congestion in urban areas.

It reduces one-way delivery time from 40 minutes to only eight minutes and can save costs of up to 80% per delivery, with reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Wu Dongming, CEO of DHL Express China says: “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 companies in the world.”

Hu Huazhi, founder and CEO of EHang says: “Together with DHL we are very glad to bring the first smart drone delivery service route to China in Guangzhou; this marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities.”

The EHang Falcon has eight propellers on four arms and is designed with multiple redundant systems for full backup, and smart and secure flight control modules.

Its features include vertical take-off and landing, GPS and visual identification, smart flight path planning, fully-automated flight and real-time network connection and scheduling.

The drones can carry up to five kilos of cargo per flight, take off and land on top of intelligent cabinets that were specifically developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of the shipment.

The intelligent cabinets 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.