Sparkling opportunity for aerial logistics as drones carry jewelry in Shenzhen

The recent practice by Phoenix Wings is the first reported case of drones being chosen for the delivery of jewelry.

Shenzhen launched the city’s first drone delivery route for the transportation of gold and jewelry on January 25, the city government’s official WeChat account reported on January 26.

The route was kicked into action as four Ark 40s, a medium-sized octocopter logistics drone crafted and operated by Phoenix Wings (丰翼科技), took to the skies, with storage boxes underneath.

Phoenix Wings is a drone affiliate of logistics giant SF Express (顺丰速运).

Three jewelry firms from the Shuibei area of Luohu, a district of Shenzhen, took part in the flight, consigning an unspecified amount of jewelry to be shipped along the pre-planned route, according to the official WeChat report.

The four drones flew back and forth between Lilang, a neighborhood in Longgang District, and Shuibei of Luohu. The single trip lasted 12 minutes across 12.6 km, with each drone capable of carrying up to 60 liters of gold and jewelry, the report said.

Previous media stories explained that the Ark 40 is currently the cargo delivery model adopted by Phoenix Wings. It has a maximum take-off mass of 37kg and a load capacity of 12kg.

The aircraft features a range of 20km and maxes out at a cruising speed of 15 meter per second.

Shenzhen is a pioneer within China for applying drone and eVTOL technologies across a number of scenarios, starting with aerial logistics and sightseeing.

In the past, drones were used to transport takeaway meals, blood bags, first aid kit and other items in Shenzhen. The recent practice by Phoenix Wings is the first reported case of drones being chosen for the delivery of jewelry.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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