DHL-Sinotrans and EHang jointly launch first fully-automated and intelligent 
urban drone delivery solution in China

  • The two companies enter strategic partnership to realize major innovation in smart logistics

  • The solution will increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness with less energy consumption

  • Following the success of the inaugural flight, the companies plan to further develop and upgrade smart drone delivery solutions to address last mile delivery

(Guangzhou, China 16 May 2019) DHL-Sinotrans, China’s first and most experienced international express company, and the world’s leading intelligent autonomous aerial vehicle company EHang have entered into a strategic partnership to jointly launch a fully automated and intelligent smart drone delivery solution to tackle the last-mile delivery challenges in urban areas of China. This cutting-edge solution makes its inaugural flight for a DHL-Sinotrans customer today, making DHL the first international express company to launch such an initiative in China. It marks a new milestone in both companies’ continuous efforts to bring innovative solutions to the market with greater automation and intelligence.

Senior executives from both companies attending the launch ceremony today held at the EHang Command and Control Center in Guangzhou included Mr. Hu Huazhi, Founder & CEO of EHang; Mr. Derrick Xiong, EHang Co-Founder and CEO of EHang Tianyu; Mr. Wu Dongming, Managing Director, DHL-Sinotrans, CEO of DHL Express China and DHL Express Global Management Board Member, and Mr. Jack O’Neill, Deputy Managing Director of DHL-Sinotrans, Senior Vice President, Network Operations of DHL Express China.

The new customized route, which has been exclusively created for a DHL-Sinotrans customer, makes flights between the Songshanhu Area and the DHL-Sinotrans service center in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province, and covers a distance of approximately eight kilometers. Using the most advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in EHang’s newly-launched Falcon series, featuring the highest level of intelligence, automation, safety and reliability, the new intelligent drone delivery solution overcomes the complex road conditions and traffic congestion common to urban areas. It reduces one-way delivery time from 40 minutes to only eight minutes and can save costs of up to 80% per delivery, with reduced energy consumption and carbon footprint compared with road transportation.

The EHang Falcon smart drone, with eight propellers on four arms, is designed with multiple redundant systems for full backup, and smart and secure flight control modules. Its high-performance features include vertical take-off and landing, high accuracy GPS and visual identification, smart flight path planning, fully-automated flight and real-time network connection and scheduling. As a fully-automated and intelligent solution, the drones, which can carry up to 5kg of cargo per flight, take off and land atop intelligent cabinets that were specifically developed for the fully autonomous loading and offloading of the shipment. The intelligent cabinets seamlessly connect with automated processes including sorting, scanning and storage of express mail, and will feature high-tech functions such as facial recognition and ID scanning.

This smart drone delivery solution will enhance DHL’s delivery capabilities and create a new customer experience in the logistics sector that opens up even more opportunities for sustainable growth and greater economic contribution. Given the growing prominence of B2C business operations and delivery in China, employing drones in express delivery services offers an innovative solution for meeting the increasing demands for time-sensitive delivery, particularly for last mile delivery in urban areas.

Safety is another important function of the new solution that takes a wide range of safety aspects into consideration, including product, operation, communication and emergency support system. The drones are controlled via EHang’s state-of-art central command and control center that closely monitors the entire drone flight path to ensure the safety and reliability of every flight, with operational features such as auto-avoidance of route conflicts and auto-assessment and warning in case of emergency, effectively avoiding no-fly zones and eliminating the risk of human manipulation.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said, “As China’s drone industry is developing rapidly, the CAAC encourages the orderly development of the industry. According to the relevant requirements in the published guidance on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations management and based on the ‘Early and Pilot Implementation' policy, we welcome and support EHang, which is among the first batch of pilot entities for UVA logistics operations, to work together with DHL-Sinotrans in advancing research and exploration in drone logistics that puts safety at the core and constantly improves the relevant standards and systems for drone logistics through practice.

“We are delighted to be partnering with EHang to set a new innovation milestone with this new fully-automated and intelligent drone logistics solution, which combines the strength of the world’s largest international express company together with one of the leading UAV companies in the world,” said Wu Dongming, Managing Director, DHL-Sinotrans, CEO, DHL Express China. “This is an exciting time for the logistics sector, with continued growth of the Chinese economy and cross-border trade, particularly in South China and the Greater Bay Area, which is home to an increasing number of SMEs and startups. This means there is a tremendous volume of logistics needs, which in turn creates new opportunities for implementing innovative solutions that can continuously drive growth with greater efficiency, sustainability and less cost.”

Mr. Hu Huazhi, Founder & CEO of EHang, said, “Together with DHL-Sinotrans, we are very glad to bring the first smart drone delivery service route to China in Guangzhou; this marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities. Riding on today’s launch, we expect smart drone delivery as an innovative logistics solution will be expanded and realized in more areas, and we look forward to working with DHL-Sinotrans in building the eco-system for a multi-dimensional urban air transport system.”

Mr. Yang Daqing, a research fellow with the China Society of Logistics, said: “The development of the UAV industry in China has accelerated in recent years, and with the increasing government support and growing market needs, we expect this trend to continue, creating new ways to advance the smart and digital transformation of the country’s logistics industry. The partnership between DHL and EHang and their smart drone delivery solution is the latest example of how China is developing innovative approaches to tackle the challenges of last-mile delivery and further stimulate growth.”

Building on the launch of its first fully automated, intelligent drone delivery solution in China, DHL will continue to identify new routes that can be developed for clients in need of tailored customer services and logistics solutions and will work closely with EHang to create a second generation of drones in the near future that will further improve capacity and range in drone-operated express delivery.

EHang also offered a glimpse of the future, revealing its 184L drone publicly for the first time today. It can carry up to 260kg of cargo and is one of EHang’s drone series dedicated to logistics applications. Working together with DHL-Sinotrans, EHang will build a complete smart drone delivery solution that integrates hardware, smart software, scheduling system, flight route, operation and services that covers both trunk and branch lines as well as last-mile delivery. Such a complete solution will provide customers with an open, smart, efficient and automated air logistics network, and by integrating and synergizing with other smart infrastructure such as a drone logistics airport, cabinet and logistics vehicles, building a multi-dimensional and closed-loop smart logistics system that will provide even greater efficiency and cost savings.

Today’s launch coincides with DHL’s 50th Anniversary this year, celebrating half a century of excellence in international express delivery. As the inventor of international express delivery, DHL has consistently nurtured a strong sense of entrepreneurship and innovation that has empowered the company to make great strides in the industry, despite market fluctuations and fast-changing needs. By embracing digitalization, sustainability and customer-centricity, DHL will continue to strive to be at the forefront of this journey, for the next 50 years and beyond.