Chinese drone reaches new heights in supply delivery, waste removal missions from Mount Everest

During the round trip – carried out in subzero temperatures and high winds – the drone reached a maximum altitude of nearly 6,200 meters and still had 43% battery remaining, according to the company.

DJI’s FlyCart 30 drone takes off for a test delivery from Mount Everest Base Camp on April 30. Photo: Xinhua
“The ability to safely transport equipment, supplies and waste by drone has the potential to revolutionize Everest mountaineering logistics, facilitate waste clean-up efforts and improve security for everyone involved,” Christina Zhang, DJI’s senior director of corporate strategy, said in a company press release.

Flight becomes more difficult at higher altitudes because air pressure and density decrease, leading to thinner air. In such conditions, planes have to work harder to get off the ground, limiting the payload a drone can carry.

These factors can also impact flight stability and put greater strain on the drone’s battery. DJI previously said 6,000 meters was the maximum altitude the drone could fly using its two batteries, but that limit did not include a payload.

Following the trial, a Nepalese company commissioned by the government launched a drone transport project last month with the aim of cleaning up waste left on the southern slope of Everest.

Mount Everest, straddling the border between China and Nepal, sees thousands of climbers every year attempt to reach its summit, more than 8,800 meters above sea level.

The world’s highest mountain has hosted more than 6,600 successful summits in 2023, with each climber leaving behind around 8kg of trash on the slopes. Despite cleanup campaigns, the mountain is now considered “the highest landfill in the world,” DJI said.

Over the past 70 years, around 140 tonnes of waste have accumulated on the mountain, according to DJI citing the Nepali Times.

A DJI drone flies over the dangerous Khumbu Icefall during a delivery test on the Nepalese side of Mount Everest on April 30. Photo: Xinhua

The task of cleaning up the trash has been left to local Nepali guides, who often risk their lives carrying empty oxygen cylinders, abandoned tents, food wrappers and human excrement.

To move waste from Camp 1 to Base Camp, Sherpa guides must cross the Khumbu Icefall, an unstable river of ice that is one of the most difficult sections of the mountain to cross.

“We have to spend 6 to 8 hours every day hiking this icefall,” said Mingma Gyalje, a mountain guide with Imagine Nepal, according to DJI.


Drone food deliveries take off in Chinese tech city Shenzhen

Drone food deliveries take off in Chinese tech city Shenzhen

“Last year I lost three Sherpas. If we are unlucky, if our timing is not right, we lose our lives.

DJI said that while helicopters could “theoretically” make the same journey, they are rarely used due to costs and dangers. But their drone, carrying 15 kg of cargo, can make a round trip from base camp to Camp 1 in just 12 minutes, the company said.

Due to the challenge of landing at Camp 1, the DJI team chose a location between the camp and the top of the icefall, where cargo could be unloaded and waste loaded using a cable attached to the drone while it hovers.

Before attempting a full trip, the company said the mountain team conducted several trials to test the drone’s hovering and unloading capabilities, weight capacity, and wind and temperature resistance.

The team had to try different takeoff locations to minimize the risk of losing the drone’s signals.

On May 29, a DJI drone carried a load of ropes and ladders up the slopes of Everest, weighing more than 30 kg, according to a report by the official Xinhua news agency.

The company said its FlyCart 30 drone, launched in January, has also been used to plant saplings in Japan, provide aid during a mountain fire in Norway, conduct research in Antarctica and install solar panels in the Mexico.


China’s largest drone maker DJI blacklisted by US Department of Defense

China’s largest drone maker DJI blacklisted by US Department of Defense

DJI was named in a bipartisan US government bill known as the Countering CCP Drones Act, which seeks to limit DJI’s operations in the country based on its “ties to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).” , in order to prevent China from collecting data and monitoring. the population, as well as to support American supply chains. The bill could be submitted to Congress this month.

“This bill is based on inaccurate claims and contradicts a technology-based policy approach that would raise the bar for drone safety in general,” DJI Global said on its social media channels last week.

“If DJI (Federal Communications Commission) authorizations are revoked, U.S. operators will no longer be able to access new DJI drones, and their existing drone fleets may even have to be grounded,” the company said.

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