DHL Express, EHang partner to launch drone delivery service in urban China

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In an effort to address the last-mile delivery challenges in the urban areas of China, international express delivery service provider DHL Express and autonomous aerial vehicle company EHang have partnered to jointly launch a fully automated and intelligent smart drone delivery service.

The service’s inaugural flight was for a DHL customer, making DHL the first international express company to provide this type of service in China.

“We are delighted to be partnering with EHang to set a new innovation milestone with this new fully-automated and intelligent drone logistics solution,” says Wu Dongming, CEO, DHL Express China, “which combines the strength of the world’s largest international express company together with one of the leading UAV companies in the world.”

Exclusively created for a DHL customer, the new customized route covers a distance of approximately eight kilometers between the customer premises and the DHL service center in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province. The service will utilize the most advanced UAS in EHang’s newly-launched Falcon series, which is capable of overcoming the complex road conditions and traffic congestion common to urban areas, thanks to being equipped with the “highest level of intelligence, automation, safety and reliability,” the companies say. 

Using the UAS, one-way delivery time drops drastically from 40 minutes to just eight minutes, and can save costs of up to 80 percent per delivery, with reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint compared with road transportation.

“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,” says Mr. Hu Huazhi, founder & CEO of EHang.

“Riding on today’s launch, we expect smart drone delivery as an innovative logistics solution to be expanded and realized in more areas, and we look forward to working with DHL in building the eco-system for a multi-dimensional urban air transport system.”

Equipped with eight propellers on four arms, the EHang Falcon smart drone is designed with multiple redundant systems for full backup, as well as smart and secure flight control modules. Some of its high-performance features include vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), high accuracy GPS and visual identification, and fully-automated flight.

Capable of carrying up to five kilograms of cargo per flight, the UAS take off and land on top of intelligent cabinets that were specifically developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of the shipment. Additionally, the intelligent cabinets seamlessly connect with automated processes including sorting, scanning and storage of express mail. They will feature high-tech functions such as facial recognition and ID scanning.