Wingcopter unveils new delivery drone
Wingcopter has unveiled a new bird today.
It is called the Wingcopter 198, a successor to the Wingcopter 178, which was released two years ago.
Not that there is anything wrong with the 178; but Wingcopter say their new generation of delivery drone is more powerful version, all-electric, vertical-take-off-and-landing (eVTOL), fixed-wing drone that has been designed to leverage Wingcopter’s broad experience in aviation innovation and establishes a new industry standard in drone technology and drone-based logistics.
The new drones will have a wider span for the fixed wings, eight rotors where the 178 had four, as well as an inverted tail.
“The Wingcopter 198 is a game-changer for drone-based deliveries, ready to create logistical highways in the sky. It can be perfectly utilized as a fleet solution in delivery networks to create new opportunities, everywhere”, said Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter.
In a statement announcing the new drone’s introduction, Wingcopter said the 198 has the following features:
Based on Wingcopter’s patented tilt-rotor technology, the Wingcopter 198 takes off and lands vertically anywhere without the need for additional infrastructure and smoothly transitions into quiet and enduring forward flight. It can carry payloads of 6 kilograms on one battery charge over 75 kilometres, or up to 110 kilometres with less payload, even in challenging weather conditions.
This makes the Wingcopter 198 the optimal solution for any delivery fleet addressing the middle or last-mile gap, especially in rural areas or hard-to-reach places such as islands, mountainous areas or offshore platforms and ships. The aircraft’s top speed of 150 km/hour enables on-demand express deliveries.
The unique triple-drop mechanism allows for separate and precise winch-delivery of up to three packages to multiple destinations per flight. Alternatively, the Wingcopter 198 can deliver two medium-sized packages or one large package providing maximum flexibility in size and shape.
The entire delivery process is fully automatic. In addition, one operator can control a fleet of up to 10 Wingcopter 198s simultaneously anywhere in the world via new control station software. Moreover, the Wingcopter 198 is equipped with advanced maintenance technology to avoid unplanned downtimes, improve parts reliability, and lower maintenance costs.
The Wingcopter 198 is a delivery drone designed and developed according to aviation safety standards and currently undergoing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certification in the USA. Thanks to the redundant system architecture which includes eight instead of four motors, the Wingcopter 198 provides an extremely high degree of reliability and safety.
All other essential components such as the flight controller, airspeed sensor or battery are also redundantly integrated. The main communication link to the operator is LTE/5G, backed up by satellite. Specially developed detect-and-avoid software combining ADS-B, Flarm, Remote ID and visual artificial intelligence interprets the flight environment in real-time and automatically initiates evasive manoeuvres, as required.
Downward-looking cameras use AI-based optical sensing for accurate and safe parcel dropping as well as precision landing in combination with obstacle avoidance.
Ease of use
The Wingcopter 198 software and interface design were developed with a clear focus on making the user’s workflow as simple and efficient as possible. It allows for fully autonomous, beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights and automated deliveries. The smart batteries can be swapped within seconds to maximize time in the air. The Wingcopter Cloud allows for mission planning to be independent of the operation by using different control stations. APIs enable a seamless integration of fleet information into customer software solutions.
This unique combination of software, hardware and operability makes the Wingcopter 198 the ideal platform for drone-based delivery of a broad selection of goods, from medical supplies to consumer goods, spare parts and tools, as well as groceries or freshly prepared food.
“We applied the many years of experience with the Wingcopter 178, the model that literally enabled us to take off as a company, and applied it to the development of the Wingcopter 198, optimising every design aspect for ease of use, efficiency and safety,” said Jonathan Hesselbarth, Chief Technology Officer at Wingcopter. “The result is what we believe to be the most advanced, versatile and efficient delivery drone solution in its category.”
The company says mass production will start shortly, and that the first 100 units can be reserved right away.
“Wingcopter has also set up an Authorized Partner Program to qualify, certify and enable partners such as drone-as-a-service providers, distributors and dealers to operate, promote, distribute and support Wingcopter technology worldwide. Interested parties can now apply to join the program.”