The General Directorate for Civil Aviation (DGAC) for France has authorized DPDgroup, a subsidiary of Le Groupe La Poste, to operate a 15km (9.3 miles) commercial route for the delivery of parcels using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It is one of the first commercial drone delivery routes to be officially approved by the state worldwide.
The DPDgroup drone will travel from Saint-Maximin-La-Sainte-Baume in southern France and will deliver parcels to a number of companies in the remote commune of Pourrières, once a week.
For both the departure and arrival of the drone, a delivery terminal will be used to secure the parcel loading phases, from take-off to landing and placement of the parcel.
The authorization from the DGAC follows the completion of a two-year trial by DPDgroup in partnership with Atechsys, a supplier of testing grounds for the latest vehicle technologies. After numerous tests and more than 600 hours of flight time, the DPDgroup drone demonstrated, in September 2015, its ability to fly in complete autonomy as it transported a parcel weighing 1.5kg (3.3 lb) over 14km (8.7 miles).
Technical features of the drone include a range of up to 20km (12.4 miles), the ability to carry a payload up to 3kg (6.6 lb), a maximum speed of 30km/h (18.6mph), a navigation system capable of transmitting a distance of up to 50km (31 miles), an onboard GPS and camera with live data stream, and an automatic parachute in case of a failure.
January 12, 2017