The theme of carrying parcels drones returns from time to time. After a moment of amazement as to how our lives will facilitate the donkey carrying the parcel, we usually came to the conclusion that this is a very limited solution. DHL courier company wants to break this situation. This worldwide provider of consignments for many years has been putting on innovative solutions and Parcelocopter 3.0 is the best example.
Previous methods of transport of this type were based on the use of multi-rotors, ie vehicles of very universal but very limited range of operation. The average “quadrocopter” or “hexacopter” (or four or six-wheeled), with the current battery generation, has an effective range of about 10 kilometers. Carriage of large-scale consignments with them was therefore meaningful only in cities where there are other alternative modes of transport (eg individual bicycle or carriage couriers). Of course, the multifactor is much faster, but with the advantage of speed, the most impenetrable customers are waiting for urgent documents, for example. For such people it matters if the parcel will arrive within 5 or 30 minutes.
A similar approach to the subject since 2013 is presented by the DHL courier company with the first generation of its “Parcelocopter”, and therefore a dock for the transport of small consignments. It is a classic four-wheeler, whose job is the commercial transport of medicaments to several German islands. It is not an autonomous vehicle, because it requires continuous, manual operator control. This issue was corrected in the second generation. Parcelocopter 2.0 has a more advanced GPS-enabled controller that can perform this fully autonomous flight. Still, it was still a vehicle spanning just a few kilometers and a lifting mountain kilogram.
However, the real revolution may be the third appearance of DHL’s drones, which was presented a few days ago in Munich. It’s Parcelocopter 3.0, which is a completely different design. His planes resemble the usual model of a twin-engined aircraft. In fact, it has not two, but three engines, because the last one is hiding behind the hull. Parcelocopter 3.0 mostly acts like an airplane during takeoff and landing but its wings are turned upside down when the plane turns into a “tricopter”. This is reminiscent of some popular American V-22 Osprey aircraft, which can take off and land entirely vertical. This new DHL dron allows the use of very small space even in densely urbanized terrain.
The advantage of this solution seems obvious. Unmanned aerial vehicles can achieve much longer flight duration with greater speed and lifting capacity. The maximum speed of the latest DHL-Deutsche Post project is about 100-120 km / h, which lasts 30-60 minutes with a range of over 100 kilometers. This is a distance that greatly expands the use of unmanned aircraft for the transport of consignments. It is also important to have a higher capacity, as the latest work of the German transport company can take up to 2 kg of cargo on board.
Autonomous aircraft alone would be nothing but a proper infrastructure to handle them. DHL solved this problem in a really clever way. He called him “Sky Port”. In fact, it’s a big parcel on which the DHL messenger will land to unload and replace the battery. The whole process is fully autonomous and does not require human intervention.