Volocopter’s electric heavy-lift drone VoloDrone conducted its first public flight at ITS Hamburg 2021 in Hamburg, Germany. As one member of Volocopter’s Urban Air Mobility (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. Together with the international logistics company DB Schenker, Volocopter demonstrated VoloDrone’s 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 three-minute test flight took off at 3:02 p.m. at homePORT Hamburg 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.
The demonstration in Hamburg builds upon the foundations of the static proof of concept (PoC) the partners conducted in July this year in Stuttgart, Germany. 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 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-kilometer range. This electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is aimed to serve challenging missions across diverse industries.
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. 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 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.