DHL Express Malaysia has recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pen Aviation, in the interest to commercialise time-critical cargo hauling by utilising aerial drones. To bring you up to speed, the latter is a local customised aviation solutions provider, with unmanned automated vehicles (UAVs) being one of its specialties.
As exciting as it sounds, DHL’s primary aim for utilising drone technology is not what most of us are expecting. Through this partnership, both the logistics giant and Pen Aviation revealed that a proof of commercialisation (POC) is slated to be conducted by late 2021, with the goal of demonstrating the commercial viability of cargo drone deliveries for first-to-last-mile port logistics missions. So if you’re hoping for a foreseeable future where a DHL drone would be delivering parcels to your doorstep, then consider that hope dashed.
Joining the companies during the POC is DHL partner and local cargo airline company Raya Airways, which will be serving as the cargo drone operator. For the demonstration, the airline will be operating a PEN55V, Pen Aviation’s medium-sized UAV that is capable of transporting up to 12kg worth of cargo.
DHL says that the test will see the drone picking up and dropping off packages from a cargo ship deck to port and vice versa, in both day and night conditions. The POC would also help evaluate the cost and time optimisation for a fleet of drones to streamline port logistics and distribution activities for goods at commercial ports, it added.
Both DHL and Pen Aviation noted that the initiative will be performed in compliance with the Civil Aviation Directive CAD 6011, a regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), which allows the development and use of unmanned aircraft technologies. Should the test be deemed a success, the logistics giant aims to set up a drone fleet consisting of the aforementioned PEN55V, along with Pen Aviation’s PEN1360V heavy-sized cargo UAVs.
In addition, the decision to utilise UAVs is also in line with DHL’s aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The logistics giant says the micro turbine equipped on the PEN55V requires three times less energy to fly when compared to battery powered drones, and does not cause any potential pollution challenges related to battery manufacturing, charge, and even recycling.
It is also worth pointing out that this isn’t the first UAV-related MOU that DHL had signed. Last year, the company had also partnered with local drone tech provider Aerodyne Group with the focus of improving the transportation of healthcare related supplies in East Malaysia, as well as time-critical essentials to vessels travelling in the Malaccan Straits.