Wingcopter, a Germany-based drone company, began its journey in 2017 with a focus on delivering medical supplies by air. However, as the company grew, it began to take interest in other sectors as well. One of its recent projects is a pioneering initiative in the country that aims to provide on-demand delivery of consumer goods to isolated and rural areas.
The drone maker has launched the pilot project in collaboration with the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, the REWE Group, Vodafone, the cargo bike manufacturer Riese & Müller, and the city of Michelstadt. It offers residents of remote districts in Michelstadt, Hesse, the opportunity to have groceries and consumer goods delivered to their homes quickly and emission-free by Wingcopter delivery drone and cargo bike.
The “Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery” project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) as part of the “Innovative Air Mobility” funding directive, with a total of €430,000 (about $455,700).
Residents of remote districts around Michelstadt in the German state of Hesse will be allowed to order everyday goods such as non-perishable milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, canned food, and many other non-refrigerated products via a special LieferMichel website and have them delivered to their homes at a desired time. Initially, the service is available to folks living in Rehbach and Würzberg.
The orders are flown by Wingcopter to set landing points just outside of the villages, from where they are transported to the end customers by electric cargo bike. Customers will be able to choose from a wide range of products from the local REWE store in Michelstadt. Other local retailers will be added to the platform as the project progresses.
The project, which is just a pilot program for now, is aimed at improving the local supply of citizens in rural and remote areas. Supply is often limited in such areas, and drone deliveries have the potential to be particularly beneficial to citizens with limited mobility, such as the elderly, or for people who don’t have a car.
Vodafone plays a crucial role in ensuring that Wingcopter drones have a secure and stable connection to the ground station throughout their flight by providing the necessary mobile communications infrastructure.
Wingcopter 198 triple-drop delivery drone can make three separate deliveries secured in its belly to multiple locations on a single charge. The drone boasts a wingspan of 78″ (198 cm) and is wind and weather-resistant. The aircraft can reach altitudes of 100 m (330 ft) and has a top speed of 90 mph (144 km/h). With a payload capacity of 11 lb (5 kg), it can cover a range of 46 miles (75 km) per charge. The range increases to up to 110 km (68 miles) with lighter loads.
“We are really proud to pilot LieferMichel, the first drone delivery service for groceries and everyday goods in Germany,” Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, said in the press release. “Our biggest goal is to gain experience and evaluate, together with the residents, an environmentally friendly and efficient service that creates real added value for the population in rural areas. We are deeply grateful for the hospitality of the people of Odenwald and the openness with which they have welcomed the project and the LieferMichel team.”
The project will initially run until the end of 2023 and will be continued if it proves successful.