DHL Delivery Drone Is Three Times As Fast As A Car

A fraction of the cargo capacity, though

DHL Parcel Drone Hovering

DHL Parcel Drone Hovering

In flight, the wings pivot 90 degrees, and the drone flies like a plane.DHL

This first draft of history is messy. We accept now that the Wright Brothers were the first to achieve powered, human flight, and that they did so on December 17th, 1903. They were hardly the first to experiment with flight, though, and at the time the brother's work was viewed skeptically by many rivals. In the new age of drone flight, video and the internet make success easier to prove, but it's the exact definition of success that's hard to pin down. Today, DHL claimed major progress in drone delivery, joining the ranks of other companies claiming the same.

From DHL:

“We’re the first worldwide who are able to offer a transport drone – Parcelcopter at DHL – for end-customer delivery. With this combination of fully automated loading and unloading as well as an increased transport load and range of our Parcelcopter we have achieved a level of technical and procedural maturity to eventually allow for field trials in urban areas as well,” said Jürgen Gerdes, Management Board Member for Post - eCommerce - Parcel at Deutsche Post DHL Group.

DHL's parcelcopter drone is the latest in a series of DHL delivery drones. The first was a quadcopter that carried blood across a river for testing. Since then, they've kept testing and improving delivery, with autonomous drones flying through bad weather. The current version instead is a vertical takeoff or landing (VTOL) craft, which flies between locations like a plane but takes off and lands with rotors pointed upwards like a helicopter.

Parcelcopter Skyport

Parcelcopter Skyport

Also known as "packstations."DHL

The parcelcopter can fly at least 5 miles, at an altitude of over 1,600 feet, carrying 4.4 pounds of cargo at a speed of over 40 mph. It was tested in the Bavarian mountains, and according to DHL, it flew in 8 minutes a trip that takes cars half an hour. This wasn’t a one-off test. DHL flew 130 deliveries to special, DHL-made “skyports.” Think of them as a combination mailbox and helipad which, while cool, limit where the drones can go. No backyard drop-offs, here.

DHL may claim the first drone delivery in the history books, but there are other contenders to that record. Amazon and Google are each testing their own drones, as is the Australian postal service. Drone delivery company Flirtey claims the first urban deliver in Nevada, though its definition of "urban" is limited to a sparse town of around 3,000 people.