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  • Writer's pictureSimon Golstein

Drone makes first delivery flight on Mount Everest

A DJI drone has successfully made deliveries between two camps on the route to the summit of Mount Everest. Apart from being an impressive technological achievement, this is a significant breakthrough that could save lives on a regular basis.



Standing almost nine kilometers tall at its summit, the peak of Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth. Getting there is notoriously dangerous. The first documented ascent was made by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953, and since then, more than 6,500 people have reached the summit - with more than three hundred dying in the process.

 

Sub-zero temperatures, low oxygen levels, extreme weather, treacherous ice and regular avalanches are all deadly risks. There is only a very small window in the year in which attempts can be made - and even if all goes well, it’s known that if someone gets into trouble at altitude, helping them get back down is almost impossible.


 Credit: Rupert Taylor-Price


But even more dangerous than the climb is the work of the Sherpa guides who make the expeditions possible. They have to cross extremely dangerous and unpredictable ice fields to carry supplies, prepare routes and clear trash. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, a mountain guide, said: “We need to spend 6-8 hours each day walking through this icefall… If we’re not lucky, if our time is not right, we lose our life there.”


Now, this could all change. During the tests, a DJI FlyCart 30 drone carried oxygen bottles and other supplies from Everest Base Camp (5,300m ASL) to Camp 1 (6,000m ASL), and carried refuse on its way back down. DJI FlyCart 30 is a delivery-focused drone, with a maximum cargo weight of 30 kilograms and a range of 16 kilometers, and has a winch mode for deliveries without landing.


Credit: DJI

 

It’s a huge breakthrough in logistics on one of the most dangerous treks in the world. Using drones on the mountain could significantly lower the amount of time that people need to spend on the ice, and help clean up the refuse that’s left on the mountain after every expedition.

 

Despite the dangers, every year hundreds of people from around the world pay big money to try the climb, lured by the majesty of the mountain and the prestige of the accomplishment. Finally, thanks to drones, Everest could become a much safer place.

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