DHL trials BVLOS medicine delivery flights across Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Parcels delivery company DHL has successfully completed trials of a drone based medicine delivery service to customers on an island in Lake Victoria in Tanzania, according to the company.

The DHL Parcelcopter completed the 60km flight from the mainland in an average of 40 minutes. Over the course of the six month test, there were a total of 180 take-offs and landings and 2,200km were flown.

The trials were part of a joint project between DHL, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German drone manufacturer Wingcopter.

The DHL Parcelcopter is intended primarily for situations that mesh poorly with established infrastructures or where standard delivery methods are overly lengthy. Locations not linked to the standard road network are one example. DHL said the Parcelcopter 4.0 barely needs any infrastructure as it takes off and lands vertically. After delivering its cargo, it can be loaded with blood and laboratory samples to take back to the mainland.

According to the company: “The drone thus opens up new opportunities to address the logistic challenges in the public health sector in many parts of Africa, especially supplying hospitals and pharmacies. Medical care for the roughly 400,000 residents of the Ukerewe island district of Lake Victoria, for instance, is severely limited. This is partly due to the poor infrastructure and difficult terrain. Six hours are needed to cover the overland route of 240 km. That makes it nearly impossible to provide emergency medication or to quickly refill cool chain commodities that are out of stock.”

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