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Are cargo drones the future of logistics? Everything about DHL’s partnership with Dronamics

The prototype of a cargo drone of Dronamics
Image credit: The prototype of a cargo drone of Dronamics
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The Bulgarian aerospace startup that develops unmanned cargo drones, Dronamics, is making a significant step towards commercializing its service by going into partnership with the international logistics company DHL. Together, the two companies will start offering same-day drone cargo deliveries via the proprietary unmanned aircraft of Dronamics, “Black Swan” in emerging markets in Europe. The role of Dronamics will be to provide equipment and tech know-how to operate unmanned flights.

Svilen Rangelov, co-founder and CEO of Dronamics, shares that Bulgaria will be the location for the R&D of future models and for the manufacturing of the prototypes. The mass manufacturing of the cargo drones will happen in a partnership with a big manufacturing company which Dronamics expects to announce soon.

Under the agreement, the Sofia-based company will pilot the use of its “Black Swan” in customer operations with the help of DHL. The first same-day drone cargo delivery flights are planned to begin in 2022. 

Matthias Heutger, Head of Innovation and Commercial Development at DHL, has commented that cargo drones will have a key role in the next generation of transportation in logistics. According to him, their partnership with Dromaics will create new opportunities for sensitive and time-critical deliveries. “We are excited to pilot the use of the Black Swan in customer operations in the near future.”

Meeting the demand for middle-mile drone deliveries

According to Rangelov, given the fact that DHL is considered one of the largest logistics providers in the world, the partnership might add some €1.86B to Dronamics’ revenues annually. In order to meet the demand and support the partnership with DHL, Dronamics plans to build and operate over 4K cargo drones. 

DHL maintains a network of innovation centers in Bonn, Singapore, and Chigaco and has developed a long-term strategic framework for innovations which includes the use of many different technologies. Dronamics was previously featured in their annual innovation radar report in the unmanned aerial vehicles category.

On a fast track to development

Dronamics and DHL are also discussing mutual exclusivity for middle-mile drone deliveries for particular industries and markets. The two companies will also work together on achieving their sustainability goals and decreasing their carbon footprint. Dronamics will continue pursuing its aim to become carbon-negative by 2027 and use biofuels, which will contribute in helping  DHL achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050.  

The announcement of the collaboration with DHL comes a month after the Bulgarian cargo drone company went into partnership with the German freight provider Hellman.  Preceding that, in March, Dronamics launched its Dronamics Airlines and incorporated three new legal entities in Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where the company planned to service its first customers in e-commerce, pharma, and spare parts logistics. In December 2020, launched the first pan-European Droneport Network consisting of over 35 airports in 11 European countries, including Belgium, Croatia, Finland, Italy, and Sweden.

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.