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Microdrones Parcelcopter Enters Regular Service For DHL

Deutsche Post DHL’s parcelcopter project has entered its next phase, with Microdrones’ special copter going into regular service from the town of Norden in North Germany to the North Sea island of Juist. More than twelve kilometres will be covered autonomously by the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) without any intervention of a pilot. Remarkably, for the first time the system is operating out of sight of a human operator (BVLOS – Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) and is likely to be the first of its category ever to complete such a mission with official approval. The goal is to carry medicine and other urgently needed items quickly and flexibly. In December of last year a Parcelcopter already flew across the river Rhine in Bonn for testing purposes. The current field test is taking place with additional support from the Institute of Flight System Dynamics of the RWTH Aachen University. 

The logistics company DHL and the drone developer and manufacturer Microdrones, based in Siegen, Germany, are looking to test the possibilities for future autonomous deliveries by parcelcopters, and the route crossing the North Sea towards the island of Juist is particularly well suited for such tests. The Federal Ministry of Transport and digital infrastructure, in coordination with German Air Traffic Control (DFS), has set up a restricted flight area specifically for the parcelcopter. The Wadden Sea National Park Administration, with the participation of several municipalities, has also approved these trials. The field trial is planned over several months, with each individual flight having to be registered.


The DHL parcelcopter reaches a speed of up to 18 metres per second at an altitude of 50 metres above the North Sea. The robust drone, with a carbon fibre body based on the md4-1000 series, was enhanced by DHL with a waterproof and aerodynamic payload compartment, as a conventional shipping box or parcel would have been unsuitable for the "last mile" delivery.


The quadrocopter was continuously developed for this intended purpose since the first test flights took place in 2013. "Our DHL parcelcopter 2.0 is already one of the safest and most reliable flight systems in its class that can meet the requirements needed to fulfil such a mission," said Jürgen Gerdes, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL’s Post - eCommerce - Parcel Division. 

The flight to Juist and back takes place fully automatically, by means of pre-programmed GPS waypoints using special landing sites. For the first time in Europe an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is going beyond line of sight of the operator for a concrete commercial application. During this field test a team of specialists monitor all activities from the ground stations, with the pilots and operator only intervening in case of a technical problem or an emergency situation.


DHL is offering a delivery service from the mainland to Juist island in cooperation with the "Seehund Juist" pharmacy. Furtheron clients can order various electronic products.



  • Fast, safe and cost effective deliveries to remote, hazardous or hard to reach areas
  • Relief shipments or medicines more quickly on-site
  • Autonomous logistics within your corporate structures or facilities (Micro logistics)
  • Flexible UAV Transportation Network or Logistics-Swarm for last mile delivery
  • Optimizing your Supply chain network in all directions