DHL Tests Drone Delivery in Germany

First drone authorized for regular use in Europe

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German logistics company DHL plans to launch a small, pilotless aircraft Friday, which will ferry medicine to the small island of Juist off Germany's northwest coast, The New York Times reports.

The flight would mark the first time a drone flown without the aid of a ground pilot has been authorized for regular use. It will begin a month-long trial of the technology by DHL, as the company hopes to prove that drones could potentially be used instead of traditional delivery methods to remote locations.

Unlike Amazon—which is currently testing drones in Canada—and Google, testing the technology in Australia, DHL does not plan to use drones over large areas in the future. Instead, DHL wants to fly drones only when it's the more cost-effective delivery method.

This drone's flight to Juist is expected to take around 30 minutes. When it lands, one of DHL's couriers will deliver the packages to local residents, a spokeswoman told the Times. DHL is expected to send deliveries twice a day, during times when other options, like a local ferry and aircraft services, are unavailable.

DHL told the newspaper that the company has worked with the German air traffic agency and the country's Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to create a restricted flight zone for the drone, which weighs just under three pounds. The drone, called a parcelcopter, will hover 100 feet off the ground, reaching speeds up to 40 miles per hour over the course of the seven-mile journey.

Despite the careful planning, the project could still experience setbacks. High winds forecast for Friday off the German coast could lead to delays.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.