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DJI drone deliveries on Mount Everest prove successful | Image: DJI

Watch the ‘World’s First’ Drone Deliveries on Top of Mount Everest

If you thought Postmates was great, you haven’t seen anything yet. Technology and innovation company DJI has just successfully completed the world’s first drone delivery trials on Mount Everest. Teaming up with Nepalese drone service company Airlift, video production company 8KRAW and Nepalese-certified mountain guide Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, DJI successfully transported three oxygen bottles and 1.5kg of other essential supplies from Everest Base Camp to Camp 1.

The round-trip transportation, which also saw the drone bring back rubbish on its way home, is significant for a number of reasons. Most notably, the two camps are separated by the Khumbu Icefall, a challenging and dangerous section of terrain that is often viewed as too perilous for simple supply transportation. Climbers often tackle this part of the ascent at night when temperatures are lowest and the ice is most stable; however, that comes with its own risks. While those in need will generally call for helicopters when required, the difficult and unpredictable weather conditions regularly put a halt to movement.

By using drones, climbers can lighten the burden on Sherpas, which may ultimately reduce the risk of death. According to Christina Zhang, senior corporate strategy director at DJI, an unmodified drone can carry 15kg between camps in 12 minutes for a round trip, day or night, making it an ideal climbing companion.

“From the end of April, our team embarked on a groundbreaking endeavour to help make cleanup efforts on Everest safer and more efficient,” Zhang said. “We are thrilled to share that our DJI FlyCart 30 was up to the task. The ability to safely transport equipment, supplies, and waste by drone has the potential to revolutionise Everest mountaineering logistics, facilitate trash cleanup efforts, and improve safety for all involved.”

In order to make the trials work, engineers at DJI were forced to consider all possible weather conditions. The DJI FlyCart 30 used in the tests was measured against temperatures ranging between -15° to 5°C, wind speeds up to 15m/s, and high altitudes over 6,000m ASL. The initial results are entirely promising, however, the climbing season of Everest is restricted to April and May, and further activities and drone testing are restricted for the rest of the year due to adverse weather.

Dji mount everest 1The Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest | Image: DJI
The Khumbu Icefall is one of the more perilous passage on the ascent | Image: DJI

DJI said that further tests will continue when possible, revealing that the success of the recent trials has prompted the Nepalese government to contract a local drone service company to establish drone delivery operations on the southern slope of Everest starting on May 22. From here, local authorities can not only work on improving climber and Sherpa safety but also reducing the ever-growing pollution problem.

Despite clean-up efforts, each climber is estimated to leave 8kg of trash behind on Everest, leaving the slopes covered in waste. As the DJI test proved, transporting garbage back down the mountain may well be within arm’s reach, again reducing the burden on Sherpas.

“The deployment of delivery drones in high-altitude regions not only promises to enhance safety and efficiency in these challenging environments but also highlights the importance of environmental conservation and sustainable practices within the mountaineering industry.”

DJI drones delivering packages from Everest Base Camp to Camp 1 | Image: DJI
DJI drones delivering packages from Everest Base Camp to Camp 1 | Image: DJI