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Why drones will only be ‘niche’ for Deutsche Post DHL

Ulrich Baumgarten | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Despite all the hype around commercial use of drones, the small unmanned vehicles are unlikely to be a large part of business for Deutsche Post DHL, the world's biggest courier firm.

"It's going to happen but it will be a niche business, with deliveries to reach places or where speed is of utmost importance," according to Lawrence Rosen, the company's chief financial officer.

The company is already using a drone to deliver medication to a German island, the first regular drone delivery to customers. Rosen described this as "working out very well".

He added the movement towards e-commerce in general is a "mega-trend" and said that the company is investing heavily in it.

Internet giants Amazon and Google have also raised the possibility of using drones for delivery, although Amazon's ambitions seem to be broader than Deutsche Post DHL. is testing out the viability of drone delivery for small packages.
Amazon drone plans shot down by authorities

Amazon's drones have been cleared for testing in the U.S.– but are likely to be more widely used in Europe first, according to the company, because the European regulatory process for use of the unmanned aircraft is moving more quickly. The internet retailer hopes to eventually be able to deliver goods within half an hour - as long as the buyer is within 10 miles of the vendor.

- By CNBC's Catherine Boyle