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Deutsche Post launches drone deliveries

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Deutsche Post launches drone deliveries
The drone in action. Photo: DHL
12:57 CEST+02:00
Medicine deliveries to a pharmacy on a North Sea island will be made by a drone, Deutsche Post announced on Wednesday, in the first project of its kind.

It is the first time that an unmanned drone will be used for a practical business purpose in Europe, the company claims.

Inhabitants and visitors on the island of Juist, which has a population of fewer than 2,000, will be able to order medicines from the Seehund Pharmacy and have them delivered from the mainland by the drone.

Flying at an altitude of 50 metres, the drone will cover 12 kilometres each way on its daily trips from Norddeich to Juist without any control by a human pilot.

A mobile control station, which can take over in an emergency, will supervise each flight.

“Our DHL Paketkopter 2.0 is one of the safest and most reliable flight systems in its class,” said Jürgen Gerdes, Director of post, eCommerce and parcels at Deutsche Post.

“This is the first time an unmanned drone will do a transport job in the real world out of sight of a pilot,” he added.

DHL began testing the drone in December 2013 in partnership with RWTH Aachen University and a private company, Microdrones GmbH. Researchers used the tests to improve its resistance to wind and seawater as well as its endurance.

The autonomous chopper had to pass a stringent licensing process set up by the Lower Saxony economy ministry.

And the Transport Ministry and German Flight Safety (DFS) have set up a special zone in which the drone will be allowed to operate. It covers the coastal town of Norden, Juist and the Wattenmeer National Park.

DHL said it currently has no plans to introduce drone deliveries elsewhere.

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