Tags: drones | deliveries | unmanned | Germany | US | FAA | restrictions

In Race to Use Drones for Deliveries, Germany Will Be Winner

Image: In Race to Use Drones for Deliveries, Germany Will Be Winner
An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) lands carrying a parcel in Bonn, Germany. (Oliver Berg/EPA/Landov)

By    |   Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 01:15 PM

The Federal Aviation Administration's strict rules against U.S. commercial use of drone aircraft have likely allowed German developers to beat American companies to the first successful automatic delivery of a commercial package by drone.

The German logistic company DHL is expected on Friday to deliver a package of pharmaceuticals from Norden, near Bremen, to the small, sparsely populated island of Juist, seven miles off the coast, The New York Times reports.

Meanwhile, U.S. mega-tech firms Amazon and Google have been forced by FAA regulations to test their planned drone delivery vehicles in Canada and Australia.

In July, a group of 29 U.S. professors wrote a blistering letter to the FAA asking them to change the rules allowing commercial drone delivery, and stating "free and open access to this technology is absolutely essential to our nation's continued leadership in aviation, to our future economy, and to our long-term security," The Wall Street Journal reported.

For example, the Journal reports, the FAA scratched plans by a Minnesota brewer to deliver beer by drone to local ice fishermen.

The German test will be the first time a drone will deliver a package out of the line of sight of a land-based pilot and fly on autopilot during its test run, the company's website reported.

The small yellow "parcelcopter," landing on four metal legs, weighing just three pounds and powered by four rotor blades, carries a bulbous weatherproof parcel container.

When it lands, it is unloaded, then takes off for its return flight across roughly seven miles of open icy water in 14 to 15 minutes, soaring at about 150 feet at a speed of 40 mph, according to the Deutsche Post DHL website.

The German project, in conjunction with the Institute of Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University and Microdrones GmbH, received the go-ahead for the tests from the appropriate government agencies, DHL reports.

While routine deployment of the system is still several years away, the Journal reports, "U.S. aviation authorities have moved more slowly than other countries in approving commercial drone flights, even for testing."

Jurgen Gerdes, Deutsche Post DHL's CEO, commented, "Our DHL parcelcopter 2.0 is already one of the safest and most reliable flight systems in its class that meets the requirements needed to fulfill such a mission. We are proud that this additional service can create added value for the residents and visitors to the island of Juist ..."

Subtly emphasizing the difference between German and U.S. agencies' attitudes toward commercial drones, Gerdes said, "Without the extremely high level of willingness to innovate and to find solutions exhibited by the involved agencies, communities, and the Wattenmeer administrative unit of Lower Saxony, such a project would not be possible."

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The Federal Aviation Administration's strict rules against U.S. commercial use of drone aircraft have likely allowed German developers to beat American companies to the first successful automatic delivery of a commercial package by drone.
drones, deliveries, unmanned, Germany, US, FAA, restrictions
453
2014-15-25
Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 01:15 PM
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