DHL green-lights cargo drone deliveries

International express service provider DHL Express, and Pen Aviation, an industry-leading ecosystem provider for Unmanned Automated Solutions (UAS), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to commercialise time-critical goods deliveries with unmanned aerial vehicles, leveraging PEN UAS-based solutions. This initiative is in partnership with Raya Airways as the cargo drone operator.

DHL will participate in a Proof of Commercialisation (POC) by the end of 2021 to demonstrate the commercial viability of time-critical cargo drone delivery for port logistics missions, focusing on the maritime industry. The POC will undertake first- to last-mile port logistics missions jointly conducted by DHL, Pen Aviation, and Raya Airways. The POC will specifically demonstrate the cost and time optimisation of a fleet of drones to streamline port logistics, and distribution activities for goods at commercial ports. PEN55V, Pen Aviation’s medium-size cargo drone, will pick up and drop off packages weighing up to 12kg from the cargo ship deck to the port and vice versa, both in the day and at night.

“Cargo drones will be the next generation of transportation in logistics. This POC comes in the wake of the recent 12th Malaysian Plan announcement where the Government of Malaysia highlighted the importance of seamless connectivity and reliability in transport and logistics,” said Julian Neo, Managing Director, DHL Express Malaysia & Brunei. “The use of drone technology will enable us to reach rural communities especially in East Malaysia, where critical items such as vaccines, medicines, and medical devices are needed while allowing us to fulfil our purpose of Connecting People and Improving Lives.”

Under this agreement, DHL and Pen Aviation will work together to certify and utilise the PEN55V to move shipments to seaports over long distances. The long-term goal is to set up a mixed fleet of PEN55V and PEN1360V, Pen Aviation’s heavy-size cargo drones designed and manufactured in partnership with Cavok-UAS.

Jean-Bernard Boura, Managing Director and Founder of Pen Aviation, said: “We decided to tackle every single pain point that hinders unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based businesses today, starting with UAV designs that can meet aviation certification standards. But above and beyond the UAV design, we are excited to confront our overall ecosystem to DHL demanding cargo environment and demonstrate our business enabling logistics solutions, whatever the mile, whatever the mode of transportation.”

For the same payload capability, the PEN55V micro turbine requires three times less energy to fly than battery powered UAVs and does not cause any pollution challenges related to battery manufacturing, charge, and recycling. In line with Deutsche Post DHL Group’s aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 (“Mission 2050”), this solution provided by PEN UAS supports our drive toward clean operations for climate protection.

This initiative will be performed in compliance with the Civil Aviation Directive CAD 6011, a regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia which allows the development of unmanned aircraft technologies. The POC will demonstrate Pen Aviation’s ecosystem superiority to successfully deliver high-volume automated logistics operations with a 24/7 UAV-based freight service.

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