DPD wins license for world’s first drone delivery service

DPD Group has won a license to run the world’s first commercial drone delivery service. The French General Directorate for Civil Aviation (DGAC) has awarded the license for operations in France.

DPD announced the news on their website today (15th December). The announcement began, “For the first time worldwide, a regular commercial route makes it possible to deliver parcels by drone.

“Once a week, the DPDgroup drone travels between Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Beaume and Pourrières, in south of France (Provence region). The route makes it possible to deliver items to a cut-off incubator of companies including a dozen start-ups specialized in technology. Their parcels now delivered by Chronopost and DPD France will be sent by drone from the Pick-up point in Saint-Maximin.”

DPD has been trialling drone delivery for some time. Their system uses a model where the drone drops and collects parcels in a special ‘delivery terminal’ that they claim “protects access to the drone during landing and take-off phases”.

Yesterday, Amazon attracted significant media attention when it posted a video showing its first fully-automated Prime Air drone delivery completed in the UK earlier this month. DPD seems to have beaten Amazon to it due to the nature of their drone delivery system, effectively being a middle link in the last mile delivery chain so people won’t be interacting with them on a regular basis. Amazon however seems to want drones to drop parcels at people’s doors – a far more difficult proposition given safety to the public not to mention the regulatory and legal minefield associated with the prospect of swarms of the things on different flight paths…

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