DHL Express, Pen Aviation work on drone-based cargo delivery

  • Conducted in partnership with Raya Airways
  • Proof of commercialisation by end 2021 to demonstrate commercial viability

DHL Express, Pen Aviation work on drone-based cargo deliveryDHL Express and Pen Aviation, a provider for unmanned automated solutions (UAS), have signed a memorandum of understanding MoU) to commercialise time-critical goods deliveries with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), leveraging the latter's UAS-based solutions. 

This initiative is in partnership with Raya Airways as the cargo drone operator, DHL said in a statement.

DHL said it will participate in a proof of commercialisation (POC) by the end 2021 to demonstrate the commercial viability of time-critical cargo drone delivery for port logistics missions, focusing on the maritime industry.

The POC will undertake first-to last-mile port logistics missions jointly conducted by DHL, Pen Aviation, and Raya Airways, it said.

The POC will specifically demonstrate the cost and time optimisation of a fleet of drones to streamline port logistics, and distribution activities for goods at commercial ports, DHL said.

PEN55V, Pen Aviation's medium-size cargo drone, will pick up and drop off packages weighing up to 12kg from the cargo ship deck to the port and vice versa, both in the day and at night, it added.

“Cargo drones will be the next generation of transportation in logistics. This POC comes in the wake of the recent 12th Malaysian Plan announcement where the government highlighted the importance of seamless connectivity and reliability in transport and logistics,” said Julian Neo, managing director, DHL Express Malaysia and Brunei.

“The use of drone technology will enable us to reach rural communities especially in East Malaysia, where critical items such as vaccines, medicines, and medical devices are needed while allowing us to fulfil our purpose of connecting people and improving lives,” he added.

Under the agreement, DHL said it will work with Pen Aviation to certify and utilise the PEN55V to move shipments to seaports over long distances.

The long-term goal is to set up a mixed fleet of PEN55V and PEN1360V, Pen Aviation's heavy-size cargo drones designed and manufactured in partnership with Cavok-UAS, DHL said.

Jean-Bernard Boura, managing director and founder of Pen Aviation, said, “We decided to tackle every single pain point that hinders UAV-based businesses today, starting with UAV designs that can meet aviation certification standards.

“But above and beyond the UAV design, we are excited to confront our overall ecosystem to DHL's demanding cargo environment and demonstrate our business enabling logistics solutions, whatever the mile, whatever the mode of transportation.”

For the same payload capability, DHL said the PEN55V micro turbine requires three times less energy to fly than battery powered UAVs and does not cause any pollution challenges related to battery manufacturing, charge, and recycling.

In line with Deutsche Post DHL Group’s aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, this solution provided by PEN UAS supports the group’s drive toward clean operations for climate protection, DHL said.

This initiative will be performed in compliance with the Civil Aviation Directive CAD 6011, a regulation by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia, which allows the development of unmanned aircraft technologies, it said.

The POC will demonstrate Pen Aviation's ecosystem superiority to successfully deliver high-volume automated logistics operations with a 24/7 UAV-based freight service, it added.


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