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S.F. Express Launches First Drone Delivery Service in China
   2015-03-24 15:14:58    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xie Tingting

S.F. Express worker picks up a package delivered by a small drone in this undated photo. [Photo: guancha.cn]

Chinese logistics company S.F. Express has begun using small drones to deliver packages to remote and mountainous areas in south China.

Being the first in China to provide drone delivery service, S.F. Express currently operates 500 flights on a daily basis around the Pearl River Delta, the heartland of China's manufacturing industry, the IT Times reported.

S.F. Express has teamed up with domestic drone maker Xaircraft in testing delivery drones since 2013. Details of the drones used by S.F. Express are not available at the moment. But according to the website of Xaircraft, its delivery drones can carry loads up to 10 kilograms (353 oz), with a maximum range of 20 kilometers (12 miles).

Prior to each flight, a worker needs to place the drone in a designated spot. Destination and route information is preprogrammed, and the drone can fly on its own.

Xaircraft's founder Peng Bin told the IT Times that he considered drone delivery to be still in its infancy, and compared with urban areas, it made more sense to deliver packages to remote areas where human workers have difficulty to access.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China (AOPA) is leading an initiative to finalize regulations on flying commercial drones in China.

The AOPA is also in charge of training drone pilots and issuing licenses to them. Ke Yubao, Executive Secretary-General of the AOPA, told the IT Times that the upcoming regulations would only allow licensed drone pilots to operate commercial drones.

As of the end of 2014, China had 244 drone pilots with AOPA licenses.

Globally, Amazon and DHL have also been exploring drone delivery services.

To read more sci-tech stories, click here.

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