Volocopter’s electric heavy-lift drone VoloDrone conducted its first public flight at ITS Hamburg 2021. 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. at homePORT Hamburg and reached a maximum altitude of 22 meters. The electric heavy-lift utility drone was equipped with a load-box between its landing gear for this delivery simulation. 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 endeavour to untap the massive potential of our VoloDrone’s logistics use cases.”
Erik Wirsing, Vice President of Global Innovation at DB Schenker, comments, “With the VoloDrone flight today, we were able to publicly demonstrate our successful collaboration and the impressive progress on DB Schenker’s innovation and sustainability roadmap for cleaner logistics. Volocopter has proven again that they are the ideal partner for DB Schenker’s ambition to rethink global supply chains and bring transport logistics to the next dimension for our customers while saving emissions.”
The demonstration in Hamburg builds upon the foundations of the static proof of concept (PoC) the partners conducted in July this year in Stuttgart. It laid out a blueprint of how to implement VoloDrone operations in logistics facilities globally. With the first public flight of the VoloDrone, in Hamburg, Volocopter and DB Schenker demonstrated how drone operations can extend the existing logistics infrastructure for land or sea transport to create entirely new supply chains and transport routes.
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-kilometre range. This electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is aimed to serve challenging missions across diverse industries. As one member of Volocopter’s robust UAM aircraft portfolio for transporting passengers (VoloCityand VoloConnect) and goods in cities, the VoloDrone is positioned to be deployed where conventional transport options reach their limits.
UAM utilises innovative aircraft to provide mobility solutions to metropolitan areas. In addition to developing the aircraft, Volocopter is organising 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. This platform will support ecosystem aspects like Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO), Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO), Flight Analytics, Vehicle Connectivity, Autonomous Operations, and more.
The VoloDrone’s first flight took place in 2019. Since then, regular flight tests have been conducted at various airfields in Germany. The drone is 9.15 metres in diameter, 2.15 metres 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.