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DHL drone will make deliveries to German island starting Friday

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Starting Friday, DHL will use drones to deliver medical supplies to a small German island. The company's quad-rotor "parcelcopter" will transport packages to the island of Juist, home to between 1,500 and 1,700 people, and DHL claims this marks the first unmanned drone delivery service to launch in Europe. Flights will occur daily through October; Reuters says the drone will make trips when ferries and flights — the typical methods of traveling to Juist — aren't running.

DHL will be keeping tabs on the parcelcopter's travels, but the drone will operate entirely on autopilot for the actual fights, which should take between 15 and 30 minutes in each direction. DHL's drone can't fly over any houses, which should avoid complaints from Juist's privacy-minded inhabitants. And if the test program goes well, DHL says it could use the parcelcopter to make urgent deliveries to other areas that are "geographically difficult to access," though it's not committing to any grand plans on the same level as Amazon's.