Aircraft

Volocopter's massive cargo drone lifts off in public for the first time

Volocopter's massive cargo dro...
The VoloDrone in action
The VoloDrone in action
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The VoloDrone in action
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The VoloDrone in action
The VoloDrone test flight involved moving a payload with cargo bikes to complete a last-mile, all-electric delivery system
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The VoloDrone test flight involved moving a payload with cargo bikes to complete a last-mile, all-electric delivery system
The VoloDrone features a rail attachment system in between its landing gear for fixing payloads to its undercarriage
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The VoloDrone features a rail attachment system in between its landing gear for fixing payloads to its undercarriage
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Better known for its work developing audacious 18-rotor flying taxis to solve congestion in city centers, Volocopter is adapting its expertise in electric aviation for the purposes of moving heavy cargo. Its giant VoloDrone has now completed its very first public flight, demonstrating how it can safely transport large loads with the help of cargo bikes and play a key role in an all-electric multi-mode delivery system.

Since introducing the VoloDrone in 2019, Volocopter has carried out regular test flights in closed airfields around Germany. Like the Volocopter itself, the giant drone 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 (440 lb) over a 40-km (24-mile) range.

On Tuesday, the VoloDrone carried out its first simulated delivery in the public arena, with the exercise undertaken together with logistics firm DB Schenker. This took place as part of ITS World Congress 2021 in Hamburg, and began with the team securing a load to the VoloDrone's undercarriage.

The VoloDrone features a rail attachment system in between its landing gear for fixing payloads to its undercarriage
The VoloDrone features a rail attachment system in between its landing gear for fixing payloads to its undercarriage

The aircraft then took off, reaching an altitude of 22 m (72 ft) and carrying the load over a three-minute flight to a nearby carpark, where it came down to land safely. From there, electric cargo bikes were used to transfer the load to its destination beneath a nearby decking.

“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 endeavor to untap the massive potential of our VoloDrone’s logistics use cases.”

As it continues carrying out test flights of the VoloDrone along with its passenger aircraft, Volocopter is working on the infrastructure side of things to support the operations of these vehicles. These could take the shape of so-called 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, though there'll be regulations and a certification process for it to navigate before a proper lift-off.

You can check out the first public flight of the VoloDrone in the video below.

VoloDrone first public flight

Source: Volocopter

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4 comments
4 comments
Steven Clarkson
200kgs 40km range.... Not bad for a monster like this battery tech is improving, well done Volo.
Now upwards and onwards lets see them by the dozens in the air !
christopher
If it ever gets permission to fly over people (unlikely) then the day is sucks in & chokes on a stray party balloon, territorial bird, or whatever-else, and crashes down killing people, will be the last time it ever keeps that permission.
Humans are so stupid. Literally every place in every city already has underground pipes leading from anywhere to anywhere else, yet they want to fly stuff through the air instead? Get you shit together people.
nick101
Finally a practical-seeming device that could be dispatched along set routes to deliver cargo, and presumably a charged battery for the next leg of the journey. I see these as much more likely in the short term, than highly regulated 'air taxis'
Towerman
@christopher
You mean helicopters ? Aa yes they have been falling out of the sky since the dawn of the rotor wing age, scores of living beings have fallen both inside and on the ground the FAA have all this available to the public.

YET they are certified to fly can you believe that !

Multicopters will be magnitudes in proprtion safer than helicopters wich only have single point if failures ;) so getting them certified should not be a concern.