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German Company Launches Drone Delivery Service

dhl-paketkopter-juist-anflug Germany has become the first country in the world to introduce a drone delivery service.

A drone is a small, unmanned aircraft that is guided by remote control. It can be used to reach places that are hard to get to by any other method.

In September, German delivery company DHL began a month-long experiment using drones to deliver medication and other urgent items to the island of Juist, in the North Sea.

Juist is a very small island, 7 kilometres off the coast of mainland Germany, with a population of about 1,500 people. It can only be reached by boat or airplane. Sometimes there is only one ferry per day, depending on tides and weather conditions.

DHL’s drone – called a “parcelcopter” – has four propellers and can carry loads of up to 1.2 kilograms. The parcels travel in a special, lightweight container that is waterproof and weatherproof.

The parcelcopter flies lower than 50 metres to make sure it does not get in the path of regular aircraft. As a further safety measure, its flights are monitored from a ground station on the mainland.

In the first two weeks of the experiment, DHL was forced to cancel two of the 10 flights planned for its drone because of bad weather conditions. The company says it needs to improve the technology so the drones can fly for a longer time, especially in heavy winds.

Companies like Google and Amazon would like to use drones to deliver parcels to people quickly. In August, Google used a drone to deliver dog treats, cattle vaccines and candy bars to remote farms in Australia. Amazon says it could deliver parcels to its customers within half an hour if it were allowed to use

However, drones are generally not allowed to fly in areas where there are a lot of buildings or people. There are many safety issues to be considered before drones can be used in populated areas. Drones must be able to fly safely around buildings or low-flying aircraft like traffic helicopters, and they must be kept away from airports. Operators also must understand how drones will react in poor weather conditions.

Drones are already being used in many places around the world, including Canada, for things like military surveillance, mapping land in remote areas, monitoring ice conditions in the Arctic, tracking wildlife, helping farmers manage their crops, and filming and photography.

When drones are being used in Canada, they must remain in view of the person operating them. Drone manufacturers are now working on technology that will help drones sense and avoid other objects or aircraft when out of sight of humans.

Related sites
Google Project Wing video.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
In a way, today’s article is about innovation. Innovation is a driving force behind many of the items we use in our day to day life. Brainstorm a list of at least five tools in your home. Why we’re they invented? What problem do they help solve? How might it be improved?

Reading Prompt: Making Inferences
Company’s like Amazon and Google would like to start sending parcels using drones as soon as possible; however, some people have raised concerns about the safety of unmanned drones.

Do you think there will be a day when seeing drones in the sky will be as common as seeing a bird? How about as often as a butterfly? Why do you think so? When do you predict that this would happen?

Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Language Feature: Fun with Proper Nouns
“Parcelcopter” is the name of DHL’s delivery drone. The word “parcelcopter” is the result of joining the ward “parcel” meaning package with the suffix “-copter” coming from the Greek word, “pteron” meaning “wing.”

Make up some of your own proper nouns by putting two (or more) words together?
Make up words for: a dinosaur, a car, a school, a new invention.