Failed delivery drone demo highlights the unforeseen obstacle that is Mother Nature

By Shawn Knight
Jan 20, 2016
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  1. German-based package delivery specialist DHL hoped to demonstrate its latest aerial drone prototype for a group of international journalists this week. The postal company had even convinced German authorities to close local airspace for the test. Mother Nature, however, had other plans.

    As The Wall Street Journal recounts, DHL's aerial drone is capable of transporting a two kilogram (nearly five pound) payload several miles. The company said its drone was well-suited for use in mountain regions where snow, wind and cold temperatures are prevalent.

    Ultimately, the courier postponed the flight due to a sudden drop in temperature and accompanying snow which would make piloting the drone unreliable (so much for it being-well suited for those conditions).

    The setback highlights a very real but perhaps overlooked obstacle in the unmanned aerial delivery business. While traditional delivery drivers are able to push ahead in all but the harshest of inclement weather, it will likely take far less to ground small aerial drones. In climates that deal with lots of precipitation, heavy winds or extreme temperatures, will delivery drones even be an option?

    This isn't the first time DHL has had to postpone a planned drone flight. In late 2014, high winds forced the company to call off a flight to an island off the coast of Germany. In that instance, the drone was going to be used to deliver medicine to the remote island of Juist.

    Permalink to story.

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    How the hell could weather conditions be unforeseen? These people must not travel by plane or watch movies.
    p51d007 likes this.
  3. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,837   +884

    well when you live in a world where people complain about how hot or cold it is without ever leaving their air conditioned enviorments then ofcourse people are going to forget about this stuff. Most people go from their house, to the car in their garage and the most they have to deal with the weather is the 50 feet between the store and their car they have to walk. And if Amazon has their way, people won't even have to do that anymore.
  4. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,526   +685

    Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night will keep the drone manufacturer from lying through their teeth, until of course they have to put up or shut up ...... If those drones could run on excuses they would have replaced the entire postal service, both political parties, and a heck of a lot of bad school boys, decades ago!
    Phr3d, wiyosaya and p51d007 like this.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    But Al, we both know they don't run on excuses, they run on vivid imaginations and 100 octane avarice....:oops:
  6. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,142   +483

    how often is the weather man correct? XD

    Anyways, I do like the idea of using "drones" for delivering to remote areas. Good luck on the weather thing.
  7. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 862   +353

    I thought the pirates around the middle east were bad, now we'll have people hacking/stealing/shooting down "quadcopters" to get their packages.
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 939   +244

    A US company I used to work for used DHL almost exclusively for their delivery service. After the experiences that company had with DHL, I would never consider using DHL to ship anything. It does not surprise me to hear that DHL had excessively bloated claims for their drones. In my experience, using them to deliver anything is like hiring The Three Stooges to deliver packages.
    captaincranky likes this.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    They're only there to warm up the crowd for the sportscaster anyway.

    Best place for them. Once a year you could make big news crashing one on a hillside somewhere in the Aleutian Islands. "It was delivering our yearly supply of medical supplies when it went in". But definitely not overhead on the streets of our largest cities.

    I truly wish people would get their heads out of their a**es, and realize that a lot of this crap about drone delivery, is just a bunch of warring megalomaniacs trying to monopolize the sale of everything, to further inflate their already over inflated egos.

    Since they started this drone crap, I all but stopped buying from Amazon.

    I mean just kick back and listen to all the BS that goes along with the drone delivery. Basically, Amazon is saying thee FAA should approve this s***, so they can try and put Walmart out of business. What public agency or official, shouldn't genuflect to that? I can drive a mile and get to a Walmart. With Amazon, they'd prefer me pay a hundred bucks a year, simply to get them off their duffs, and kick my stuff out the door.

    The more any CEO runs his or her mouth, the less respect I have for them. Final answer..:mad:
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    As near as I can tell, many companies use DHL's hybrid delivery method, (DHL/USPS), to punish customers who insist they live up to their, "free shipping", advertising enticements. Well, and to attempt to prevent them from asking for free shipping in the future. If you don't need something in a hurry, it can be fun to watch your package get, "taken for a ride", around 2 or 3 of your neighboring states.

    "Oh look dear, it's in New Jersey now"....:eek:
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  11. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Maniac Posts: 939   +244

    The company never used the hybrid service, but the results were similar. That's what you get when a relative of an officer of the company works for DHL. I would be willing to bet that at least some customers begged them not to use DHL in the future. ;)

    I had the US Postal Service ship a package around to a few neighboring states one time. I honestly thought that they mistook it for a garden gnome and that they thought they were filming a Travelocity commercial. LOL

    OTOH, moving the package around seems more interesting than what UPS does with ground packages - if they get too far too soon, UPS used to let them sit until it was time to deliver them. ;)
  12. Phr3d

    Phr3d TS Booster Posts: 218   +40

    you forgot how important those packages are for propping up malfunctioning forklifts and performing terminal velocity experiments in UPS employee's 'spare time'.
    captaincranky likes this.

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