Volocopter’s electric heavy-lift drone VoloDrone conducted its first public flight at ITS World Congress 2021, demonstrating how it can safely transport large loads with the help of cargo bikes and play a key role in an all-electric multi-mode delivery system.
The VoloDrone was first introduced in 2019; since then, Volocopter has carried out regular test flights in closed airfields around Germany. The unmanned drone is equipped with 18 rotors capable of carrying a load of up to 200 kg, making them suitable for a wide range of heavy-duty operations. With the range of 40 km, they can operate within a large radius from their point of take-off.
VoloDrone carried out its first simulated delivery in the public arena, with the exercise undertaken together with logistics firm DB Schenker. The partners showed their significant progress together since DB Schenker became a strategic investor of Volocopter in early 2020.
During its 3-minute test flight at homePORT Hamburg, the drone reached a maximum altitude of 22 meters. For this delivery simulation, the electric heavy-lift utility drone was equipped with a load-box in between its landing gear.
First, the demonstration teams secured a Euro-pallet-sized load to the box under the VoloDrone, followed by a smooth take-off. After this, the aircraft brought the payload to a DB Schenker Cargo Bike and landed safely. Once the payload was transferred successfully, the Cargo Bike delivered its cargo to the final destination under the area’s park deck, marking the completion of the entirely electric, multimodal last-mile delivery.
“This first public VoloDrone flight is a strong sign for Volocopter’s leading position in the UAM industry,” said Florian Reuter, Volocopter CEO. “We are the only UAM company offering solutions for passengers and goods that are flying fully scaled and publicly around the world. Our VoloDrone will make existing logistics processes more robust, efficient, and sustainable. DB Schenker is an invaluable partner in our endeavor to untap the massive potential of our VoloDrone’s logistics use cases.”
As one member of Volocopter’s robust UAM aircraft portfolio for transporting passengers, such as VoloCity and VoloConnect, and goods in cities, the VoloDrone is positioned to be deployed where conventional transport options reach their limits. In addition, Volocopter is organizing the physical (VoloPorts) and digital (VoloIQ) infrastructure to support these services, which are set to launch in the next 2-3 years.