DHL Express and EHang have entered into a strategic partnership to jointly launch a fully automated and intelligent smart drone delivery solution to tackle the last-mile delivery challenges in the urban areas of China.
The launch ceremony was held Thursday at the EHang Command and Control Center in Guangzhou, China, with senior executives from both companies in attendance.
According to DHL, it is the first international express company to offer fully automated and intelligent smart drone delivery 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, which combines the strength of the world’s largest international express company together with one of the leading UAV companies in the world,” said Wu Dongming, CEO of DHL Express China.
“This is an exciting time for the logistics sector, with continued growth of the Chinese economy and cross-border trade, particularly in South China and the Greater Bay Area, which is home to an increasing number of SMEs and startups. This means there is a tremendous volume of logistics needs, which in turn creates new opportunities for implementing innovative solutions that can continuously drive growth with greater efficiency, sustainability and less cost,” he said.
The customized route, which has been created for a DHL customer, covers a distance of about 8 kilometers between the customer premises and the DHL service center in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province. Using the most advanced unmanned aerial vehicle in EHang’s newly launched Falcon series, the intelligent drone solution 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 compared with road transportation, according to DHL.
Hu Huazhi, founder and CEO of EHang, said, “This marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities. 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 multidimensional urban air transport system.”
The EHang Falcon smart drone, with eight propellers on four arms, is designed with multiple redundant systems for full backup and smart and secure flight control modules. Its high-performance features include vertical takeoff and landing, high-accuracy GPS and visual identification, smart flight path planning, fully automated flight and real-time network connection and scheduling.
As a fully automated and intelligent solution, the drones, which can carry up to 5 kilograms of cargo per flight, take off and land atop intelligent cabinets that were specifically developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of the shipment, DHL said. The intelligent cabinets seamlessly 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.