Unmanned Parcel Delivery is a reality!

DHL parcel services has started a pilot (and did a successful test) of parcel delivery from the German mainland to one of the small islands off the North-Sea Coast.

Very impressive!! I will leave my personal comments for in the comments section.

Apart from the technical side of this, which have been done before, it does seem a next step given the regulatory approval.

The technical partners are the Institute of Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University and Microdrones GmbH.

English Press release: LINK




E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • They created a temporary restricted area and activate it through a NOTAM


    1. Location between mainland and the island of Juist
    2. Between GND and 300ft
    3. Can be activated at any time between 1-SEP-2014 and 30-MAR-2015 one day in advance by NOTAM
    4. For a research UAS project to deliver urgent medication, no flights allowed, exceptions possible for state and rescue aircraft
    5. It is really illegal to enter the zone
    6. Legal stuff on how to disagree with this announcement


  • Moderator

    Don't forget there are more important things to be delivered.



  • Ah yes, looks like I need new read glasses :-)

    Interestingly, I get just under 45 mins with a 12A 6S, cranking 20" xoars on a stretched steadidrone, which is about 3.5kg - I would love to know how they got to 88 minutes. I smell pork produce on that one...:)

  • @Euan, coincidentally, I looked at the MD4-1000 specs as I was curious as well what it could carry.

    I think your numbers are not correct. The specs state the maximum takeoff weight is 5.5 KG.

    • Weight: ca. 2,650 g (depending on configuration)
    • Recommended load: 800 g
    • Maximum load: 1,200 g
    • Maximum take-off weight: 5,550 g

    The 14 min. flight does seem to be a one-way trip. But they state it can fly up to 88 mins? (empty, of course)

    Surely it should be able to fly 30 mins, 14 mins. with payload and 14 mins empty return??

  • @Rob :-) you are right, it will be expensive but then again you can't write-off all the cost to just medicine delivery. This is experimental still with the expectation of future gains, and not all financial either.

  • (I'm guess-timating, as the one unknown is the props)

  • Rob has a point - lets assume the near useless fairing weighs around 300g, that leaves 900g of cargo capacity or around 500g for "optimal" payloads, which frankly does really only limit it to emergency medical uses only, and even then that's limited to small vials, some syringes, bandages etc. You're definitely not getting anything like defibrilators or oxygen canisters in there.

    Lets assume it's a full payload, that takes the AUW to 6.4kg for an MD4-1000. A 12.2A 6S powers it, so I recon their flight time is 25, stretching to 30 minutes tops...which makes me think this was a one-way trip (14 minutes each way), or an extremely risky 2 way.

    Still...I see a challenge here I feel compelled to undertake.

  • If they're using a 6-figure system to only occasionally deliver medicines in an emergency, I wonder what the service charge for that will be?

  • @Euan: Well, I am Dutch and not German, but can read/write German reasonably well.

    Indeed the article says the corridor is for the research project, but if you read the (German) press release, which is more extensive than the English one, and listen to the guy-in-suit of DHL, they intend to make this a permanent route, but of course first it has to be tried and tested for a prolonged period. It will be primarily for (emergency) delivery of Medicine at off hours when there is no Ferry connection, so not for 'normal'  parcels yet.

  • I know this is a promo video that is devoid of details and specs, however I'm not really impressed. I guess I was hoping for a system that would deliver, land on a pad, drop-off, and RTL. Closer to the prototypes from Google and Amazon. I guess it was mostly a policy achievement. 

This reply was deleted.