Most of the delivery drones being tested today are small and light enough to be picked up with one hand, with payloads typically including a snack or medication.
Volocopter, however, built a much larger drone-like machine for much heavier payloads.
On the VoloDrone’s very first public flight this week, the German company demonstrated the airworthiness of the vehicle and showed how it can be deployed for freight transport.
Conducted in partnership with logistics company and investor Volocopter DG Schenker, the demonstration involved a typical drone delivery operation, including loading, launching, flying, landing and unloading.
The VoloDrone vertical take-off and landing electric aircraft (eVTOL) was first unveiled in 2019 as a greener solution for transporting large payloads, with the aircraft capable of being piloted remotely or autonomously.
Since then, the company has refined the design of the 18-rotor vehicle, with modifications including the addition of a heavy-duty container to replace the cargo net seen with an earlier version.
The VoloDrone has a range of 25 miles (40 km) and can carry payloads of up to 440 pounds (200 kg) while flying at a cruising speed of 50 mph (80 km / h).
While we wouldn’t envision the VoloDrone delivering large TVs or other bulky items to online shoppers on behalf of companies like Amazon, we can certainly see it as a useful solution for business-to-business operations such as delivery. at the intermediate kilometer or to take inventory in remote areas. The VoloDrone could also be used to deliver vital supplies to hard-to-reach places affected by disasters, and for day-to-day operations at places like construction sites.
Volocopter was launched 10 years ago with a passenger transport aircraft which inspired the design of the VoloDrone. Earlier this year, the company unveiled another machine, the VoloConnect, an eVTOL aircraft capable of carrying four passengers at speeds of up to 112 mph (180 km / h) on trips of up to 62 miles (100 km). The company has announced plans to test large-scale prototypes of the VoloConnect with the goal of achieving certification over the next five years. Its fleet also includes the VoloCity, a smaller two-passenger eVTOL aircraft.
Volocopter is in a race with other companies to build a so-called “flying taxi” for environmentally friendly urban mobility services, although regulators will need to be happy with the design of the aircraft and the associated infrastructure before such a service can become a reality.
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