Latest Wingcopter delivery drone can haul three packages at once
German drone maker Wingcopter has today introduced a new generation model, the Wingcopter 198. This all-electric tilt-rotor vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) fixed-wing drone is capable of delivering three packages to multiple locations during one flight.
"The Wingcopter 198 is a game-changer for drone-based deliveries, ready to create logistical highways in the sky," said company CEO, Tom Plümmer. "It can be perfectly utilized as a fleet solution in delivery networks to create new opportunities, everywhere.
The delivery drone is built around Wingcopter's patented tilt-rotor technology that sees it rise up vertically like a helicopter, and then quietly and smoothly transition to fixed-wing horizontal flight. The eight-rotor flyer measures 65 x 198 x 152 cm (25.5 x 77.9 x 59.8 in), and weighs in at 20 kg (44 lb) including two quick-swap 814-Wh Li-ion battery modules. It has a maximum take-off weight of 25 kg.
Three 22 x 40 x 19-cm (8.6 x 15.7 x 7.5-in) packages can be transported at once, each attached to its own winch, and can be slowly lowered from hovered flight, or the drone can land for delivery on the ground. In ideal conditions, the delivery drone can travel for 75 km (46.6 miles) or remain in the air for 40 minutes while carrying a total of 5 kg (11 lb) of cargo on a one-way flight. Per-charge range does go down if the 198 needs to slow drop packages along the way though.
The drone uses a combination of ADS-B, FLARM and Remote ID radios, visual AI, onboard sensors and special software for obstacle avoidance, while downward cameras make use of AI-based optical sensing for accuracy during package drops and landing.
The idea here is to provide a middle- or last-mile package delivery solution for rural or hard-to-reach locations. Packages could, for example, be hauled to a warehouse or hub on the mainland using trucks, and then flown over to an island or offshore platform using a fleet of Wingcopter 198 drones.
Wingcopter says that up to 10 drones can be controlled by one operator simultaneously, with the ground station coming with dedicated hardware, including a 32-inch 4K display. The main comms link to the operator is over LTE/5G, which is backed up by Iridium satellite technology. And the company says that the software and interface have been designed for fully autonomous, beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights and automated deliveries.
The Wingcopter 198 is due to go into serial production shortly, and is currently undergoing FAA type certification in the US. The company is currently inviting applications for early access to the first 100 drones off the production line.
Product page: Wingcopter 198