HAMBURG, Germany, Oct. 12, 2021– Volocopter’s electric heavy-lift drone VoloDrone conducted its first public flight today at ITS World Congress 2021. Together with the international logistics leader DB Schenker, Volocopter, the pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM), demonstrated VoloDrone’s seamless integration into the logistics supply chain with an end-to-end cargo transport demonstration. The partners showed their significant progress together since DB Schenker became a strategic investor of Volocopter in early 2020.
The 3-minute test flight took off at 3:02 p.m and 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. We are the only UAM company offering solutions for passengers and goods that are flying fully scaled and publicly around the world,” says Florian Reuter, Volocopter CEO. “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.”
The VoloDrone is an uncrewed, fully electric utility drone designed to carry any of the six International Organization for Standardization (ISO) pallet sizes, weighing up to 200 kilograms, over a 40-kilometer range. As one member of Volocopter’s robust UAM aircraft portfolio for transporting passengers (VoloCity and VoloConnect) and goods in cities, the VoloDrone is positioned to be deployed where conventional transport options reach their limits. In addition to developing the aircraft, 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. VoloIQ serves as the digital backbone for operations.
The VoloDrone’s first flight took place in 2019. Since then, regular flight tests have been conducted at various airfields in Germany. The drone itself is 9.15 meters in diameter, 2.15 meters tall, and has a 600-kilogram maximum take-off weight (MTOW). Future VoloDrone operations will be fully electric with autonomous beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities.
The company has raised a total of €322 million in equity form investors including Daimler, Geely, DB Schenker, BlackRock, and Intel Capital amongst others.