Drone delivery makes post services easier in China’s remote regions

A postman tests the drone before it takes off. (Photo from www.cztv.com)

A postman tests the drone before it takes off. (Photo from www.cztv.com)

By Liu Xuxia from People’s Daily


A drone delivering parcels to a remote mountainous village in southwest China’s Guizhou province has caught the eyes of Chinese media.

The over-one-meter-wide drone has six propellers, and it is the only drone in this post office used for transporting parcels for villages that are hard to access. The drone started to work for a post bureau in Weicheng town of Guiyang, capital city of the province since early January.

Five villages were chosen for the pilot delivery project, in which the drone flies twice a week to deliver parcels weighing no more than five kilograms each time. Because of it, postmen now spend only one hour on their work compared with a whole day before.

The drone’s flying routes were programmed by its developer, said Wang Hua, a staff of the county post office. To let the drone fly in accordance with the designed route, all a postman has to do is to put the parcels in it, check the battery, scan the QR code on the drone and click the start button on his phone.


JD.com’s delivery drone and warehouse patrolling robot attract attention at the World Intelligent Manufacturing Summit held in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu province, Dec. 6, 2017. (Photo from People’s Daily Online)

The drone is equipped with vertical direction sensors for accurate positioning and landing. It will land on a designated red and blue blanket after sensing the latter, said a research staff with the drone supplier.

Before the drone was employed, postmen had to go to the mountain three times a week for delivery, but now their work is replaced by the drone. If the drone works well, its flight frequency will be increased, said Chen Zhongxiang, head of a branch post office of Weicheng town.

Drones are better at delivery in remote and mountainous areas compared with other delivery methods, because they fly straight routes, which is the shortest distance, and they are almost free from the impact of the ground conditions, according to the first drone report released by a research institute of Chinese courier YTO Express and a logistics information technology lab last December.

Drones can cut delivery time by 60 percent and reduce costs by 60 percent, Antwork, a drone supplier for China Post said after their drones were used for delivery in Anji county, east China’s Zhejiang province.

Last year, over 40 billion parcels were delivered in China, the State Post Bureau said. According to Amazon statistics, about 85 percent of the parcels weighed less than five pounds (about 2.27 kg), meaning they can be delivered by drones.

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