In Images: DHL's 'Parcelcopter' Delivery Drone

Ready for Take Off

Drone prepares for take off.

(Image credit: DHL)

DHL's new and improved delivery drone will take off from the coastal town of Norddeich, Germany and travel roughly 7.5 miles (12 kilometers) to Juist, an island in Germany's North Sea. The drone's battery allows it to fly for about 45 minutes before needing to be recharged.

Up, Up and Away

The DHL drone in flight.

(Image credit: DHL)

The drone is known as a quadrocopter, and is equipped with four identical propellers. The speed of each of these propellers can be controlled individually to change the direction of the drone. This small machine is surprisingly quick and can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) if wind conditions are favorable.

Unmanned Autopilot

The drone waits for take off.

(Image credit: DHL)

For their delivery runs to Juist, the drones will use an advanced autopilot feature that allows them to take off and land without assistance from a pilot. Once they arrive on the island, their cargo will be unloaded and delivered to residents by a human courier.

Special Delivery

The drone's weatherprrof container.

(Image credit: DHL)

Each drone is equipped with a lightweight, weatherproof container that attaches to its undercarriage. These containers will be used to deliver medications and other emergency goods to people on the island of Juist. Residents can sign up for this special delivery service at a local pharmacy. The "parcelcopter" can carry a load of up to 2.6 pounds (1.2 kilograms). The drone itself weighs 11 pounds (5 kg).

Humans At the Ready

Delivery drone flies.

(Image credit: DHL)

Though the drones will be running on autopilot, DHL has set up a mobile ground station in Norddeich so that manual action can be taken if an aircraft malfunctions, or if an emergency occurs.

Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth is a former Live Science associate editor and current director of audience development at the Chamber of Commerce. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from George Washington University. Elizabeth has traveled throughout the Americas, studying political systems and indigenous cultures and teaching English to students of all ages.