Matternet, DHL test UAV with actual payloads
California-based drone manufacturer, Matternet, plus DHL’s ‘parcelcopter’ prototype unmanned
aerial vehicle (UAV), both plans to begin testing their airworthiness with actual payloads in the
next two months.
Last year, at the CNS conference, Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet, made a joint
announcement with Oliver Evans, former Chief Cargo Officer of Swiss International Airlines, that
his company would work with Swiss WorldCargo and Swiss Post on testing the Matternet ONE
drone as an automated cargo delivery system. Last summer, they executed successful tests in
Evans, who is now Head of Global Business Development for Matternet, said that the company
is now proceeding to the next stage, which ‘involves planning to fly further routes on behalf of
customers of Swiss WorldCargo, with actual shipments on board, to prove the reliability and
value of our services in addressing particular logistic challenges of the clients involved.”
He could not disclose the timing and location of the operation, but said Matternet has received
certification for its vehicles from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). The process of
coordination with the customer, the logistic partner (Swiss WorldCargo) and the FOCA, among
other authorities, is in the process, Evans said.
Meanwhile, DHL’s parcelcopter concept which conducted its pilot projects last fall in Bonn and
on the North Sea Island of Juist will resume testing soon, with yet another test flight in the
village of Reit in Winkl in Bavaria. This test will subject the UAV to the conditions of a mountain
region, covering a distance of five miles to Winklmoosalm, one of the largest and most famous
alpine winter sports destinations in Germany.
This test will include application of the fully automated loading and unloading of parcels, which
will be tested in a specially modified DHL Packstation kiosk, called the ‘Parcelcopter Skyport.’