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.