Rapid response from the air: medicines successfully delivered using a parcel drone in East Africa

Drone manufacturer Wingcopter, DHL and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH complete successful pilot project. More than 180 take-offs and landings, over 2,200 km flown and roughly 2,000 flight minutes recorded.

Eschborn/Bonn/Darmstadt, 4 October 2018: Revolutionising the delivery of medicines to remote areas using drones – the pilot project Deliver Future proves that it’s not science fiction. Three experts in their respective fields are making it happen: the German drone manufacturer Wingcopter, DHL and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Over a six-month period, they successfully tested the delivery of medicines using a drone to an island in Lake Victoria. During the trials, the autonomous DHL Parcelcopter 4.0 completed the 60 km flight from the mainland to the island in 40 minutes on average. A total of 2,200 km were flown and roughly 2,000 flight minutes recorded during the pilot project.

The drone thus opens up new opportunities to adress the logistic challenges in the public health sector in many parts of Africa, especially supplying hospitals and pharmacies. Medical care for the roughly 400,000 residents of the Ukerewe island district of Lake Victoria, for instance, is severely limited. This is partly due to the poor infrastructure and difficult terrain. Six hours are needed to cover the overland route of 240 km. That makes it nearly impossible to provide emergency medication or to quickly refill cool chain commodities that are out of stock. 

A key feature is that the DHL Parcelcopter 4.0 barely needs any infrastructure as it takes off and lands vertically. After delivering its cargo, it can easily be loaded with blood and laboratory samples to take back to the mainland. In future, the Parcelcopter could therefore not only improve logistics in the public health sector: it has the potential to help prevent crises worldwide, for example allowing an early response to slow the spread of viral diseases like Ebola.

If you are interested in footage or press photos, please contact presse@giz.de.


The Movie: Deliver Future: Parcelcopter 4.0 | Delivering vital medicines by drone

Media Contact:

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Tel.: +49 6196 79-1785,

Deutsche Post DHL Group
Media Relations, Alexander Edenhofer, Tel.: +49 228 182-9944,

Wingcopter Holding GmbH & Co. KG
Tel.: +49 175 26 26 272

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is a federal enterprise with worldwide operations. It supports the German Government in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. It is also engaged in international education activities around the globe. Through its work its assists people and societies in shaping their own future and improving living conditions. Initial ideas for the Deliver Future project were generated in the GIZ lab of tomorrow. The project was implemented within the Improved Access to High-quality and Affordable Medicines in Africa and South-East Asia programme.

Wingcopter is an award-winning German manufacturer of innovative drones for logistics, surveying, monitoring and inspection. In order to achieve a new dimension of efficiency and close the market gap between commercial drones, helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, the startup has specially developed and patented a unique tilting rotor mechanism. This combines the advantages of two drone types in one: The electrically powered Wingcopter drones can take off and land vertically like multicopters in a minimum of space. For efficient forward flight, the rotors can be tilted and the drone transforms into an unmanned fixed-wing aircraft in seconds. This enables long ranges of up to 100 km and a Guinness World Record top speed of 240 km/h. The Wingcopter flies autonomously and reliably even in strong winds or heavy rain. In addition to the transport boxes filled with goods or medical commodities, a variety of sensors such as full format cameras or precise laser measuring devices can easily be attached. These sensors are utilized in applications like infrastructure monitoring of pipelines, power lines or railway lines, for search and rescue missions or disaster control, as well as for mapping of huge landscapes and optimizing precision agriculture and geological research. Already today, Wingcopter is shaping the future of aviation and is dedicated to improving the lives of people worldwide by enabling meaningful civil applications.

DHL – The logistics company for the world

DHL is the leading global brand in the logistics industry. Our DHL family of divisions offer an unrivalled portfolio of logistics services ranging from national and international parcel delivery, e-commerce shipping and fulfillment solutions, international express, road, air and ocean transport to industrial supply chain management. With about 360,000 employees in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, DHL connects people and businesses securely and reliably, enabling global trade flows. With specialized solutions for growth markets and industries including technology, life sciences and healthcare, energy, automotive and retail, a proven commitment to corporate responsibility and an unrivalled presence in developing markets, DHL is decisively positioned as “The logistics company for the world”.

DHL is part of Deutsche Post DHL Group. The Group generated revenues of more than 60 billion euros in 2017.

Further information

Movie “Parcelcopter 4.0 | Delivering vital medicines by drone” on the DHL YouTube-Channel

A healthier & livelier future – Deliver Future has the potential to revolutionise medical supply in rural Africa


Press Release