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Delivery drone flies toward the future

By Shi Xiaofeng in Hangzhou and Sun Xiaochenin Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-20 07:09

Delivery drone flies toward the future
Chen Yong, a postal worker, receives packages delivered by a drone in Anji county, Zhejiang province, on Monday. Yu Lebin / For China Daily

A successful package delivery by drone on Monday bodes well for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft in the logistics sector, but more tests are needed, according to those involved with the test.

As a six-propeller China Post drone carrying a package landed smoothly on a playground in Qiguan village, Anji county, Zhejiang province, to the cheers and applause of a group of residents that included local postal worker Chen Yong. The package was the first to be delivered by drone in the rugged mountain area.

"It came way faster than I expected," Chen said, after collecting newspapers and mail delivered by the drone 10 minutes after leaving the town 10 kilometers away.

It was the first successful trial by China Post on its proposed unmanned aircraft delivery route, as it faces the challenge of rising delivery costs in rural areas, where demand for faster and safer delivery has taken off with e-commerce.

Delivery drone flies toward the future

Zhang Lifeng, general manager of China Post's Anji county branch, said the trial will run for three months as part of a feasibility analysis for future long-term operations.

"It was conducted for testing the possibility of flying delivery drones on carefully designed fixed routes in this mountainous region," he said.

"Still, we need more research and observation regarding the drone's power supply, the stability of the online control system and the operational cost to know whether the technology is reliable and practical," he said.

The drone, together with a remote control system, which was provided by an unmanned aircraft manufacturer in Hangzhou, can fly as long as 30 minutes - a total range of 20 kilometers - on each battery recharge, according to the county post office.

"What also caters to rural needs is that the drone will fly on pre-established, fixed routes control operations that are not too complicated," Zhang said.

Two more trial routes connecting the town's post office with two remote villages, Dongling and Daxi, will be opened soon, according to the county government.

"It will for sure bring more convenience for local residents and promote efficiency in logistical services in the long term," said Xia Liang, chief of Hanggai township, which governs Qiguan village.


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