DHL has ended development of its Parcelcopter delivery drones after eight years.
The company has also ceased its pilot programme in Tanzania with manufacturer Wingcopter, in which it was testing deliveries of medical supplies.
On their website, in a recent article, DHL touted the Parcelcopter as an “impressive proof of concept” amidst the “unrealistic hype in the drone industry”, in which “overeager entrepreneurs” overpromised and failed to deliver on their technology.
It described parcel delivery drones as one of the few viable business cases for drone technology, and the Parcelcopter as “ready for the mainstream”. However, DHL confirmed the end of production to German newspaper WELT.
Credit: Kilian Kremer
The first model of Parcelcopter in 2013 could carry up to 1.2kg across one kilometre, travelling 43 kilometres an hour. Version 2.0 came the following year, with an autonomous control system. Both were quadrocopters.
Subsequent models in 2016 and 2018—tiltwing and tiltrotor aircraft respectively—improved capacity, airspeed and flight distance, taking the trials from river crossings and open sea to mountains and lakes.
There had not been any new prototypes since 2018.
DHL’s drone trials have not been limited to the Parcelcopter programme, however. The company has partnered with drone manufacturers such as EHang in China and, more recently, Dronamics for “middle-mile” deliveries.