Ready for Take Off
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 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.
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.
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
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.