VoloDrone takes to the skies for the first time
Finally, it is here.
Or is it?
German logistics company Volocopter has been teasing the launch of its giant cargo unmanned aerial vehicle, the VoloDrone, since the Hanover agriculture exhibition in November 2019.
Since then, the world has been holding its breath in anticipation; the VoloDrone has promised to disrupt the game in agriculture with its capacity for carrying 200kg-worth of chemical spray, as well as the middle-distance logistics industry with its flexible cargo drone.
Well; yesterday the company did it again.
What we mean is, Volocopter has been carrying out these flights tests behind closed doors for close to two years now, but for three minutes yesterday, they flew the VoloDrone in public for the first time.
The flight was a demonstration of how the VoloDrone can safely transport large loads with the help of cargo bikes and play a key role in an all-electric multi-mode delivery system.
Conducted in collaboration with the company’s investor partner, logistics firm DB Schenker, the simulated delivery demonstration was part the Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) World Congress 2021 in Hamburg, and began with the team securing a load to the VoloDrone’s undercarriage.
“The 3-minute test flight took off at 3:02 p.m. at homePORT Hamburg and reached a maximum altitude of 22 meters,” Volocopter said in a statement. “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 (urban air mobility) industry,” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “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 endeavour to untap the massive potential of our VoloDrone’s logistics use cases.”
Like its manned passenger air transport sibling the Volocopter, the VoloDrone uses 18 rotors, a battery and electric motors to hoist itself into the air, using a rail attachment system in between its landing gear to carry payloads of up to 200 kg over a 40-km range.
The drone is also 9.15 meters in diameter, 2.15 meters tall, and has a 600-kilogram maximum take-off weight.
The company says it is now working on the infrastructure side of things to support the operations of its aerial vehicles; and these would come in the shape of VoloPort networks where the vehicles can land, swap batteries and pick up people and cargo.
The company says today it is planning to launch these sometime in the next two or three years.
We are sure they said exactly the same thing one year ago.
But we understand some processes are not their fault thought, as they have to satisfy aviation and urban air mobility authorities through a regulations and certification test before a proper lift-off.