Volocopter’s VoloDrone Takes Flight: Electic, Heavy-Lift Utility Aircraft

Volocopter's VoloDrone

© Volocopter

Volocopter’s VoloDrone Successfully Completes First Public Flight

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

Today at ITS Hamburg 2021, Volocopter’s electric heavy-lift VoloDrone completed its first public flight. Alongside international logistics leader DB Schenker, Volocopter, the urban air mobility (UAM) pioneer, showcased VoloDrone’s seamless integration into the logistics supply chain with an end-to-end cargo transport simulation. The partners demonstrated their significant progress together since DB Schenker came aboard as a strategic investor of Volocopter early last year.

Taking off at 3:02 p.m. at homePORT Hamburg, the three minute test flight reached a maximum altitude of 22 meters. For this delivery demonstration, the electric heavy-lift utility drone was outfitted with a load-box in between its landing gears. First, the demonstration teams affixed a Euro-pallet sized cargo to the box under the VoloDrone, which was followed by a smooth take-off. Afterwards, the aircraft delivered the payload to a DB Schenker Cargo Bike and landed safely. Following the successful delivery, the Cargo Bike transported its cargo to the final destination under the area’s park deck, completing the fully electric, multimodal last-mile delivery.

“This first public VoloDrone flight is a strong sign for Volocopter´s leading position in the UAM industry. We are the only UAM company offering solutions for passengers and goods that are flying fully scaled and publicly around the world,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “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.”

“With the VoloDrone flight today, we were able to publicly demonstrate our successful collaboration and the impressive progress on DB Schenker’s innovation and sustainability roadmap for cleaner logistics,” commented Erik Wirsing, Vice President of Global Innovation at DB Schenker. “Volocopter has proven again that they are the ideal partner for DB Schenker’s ambition to rethink global supply chains and bring transport logistics to the next dimension for our customers while saving emissions.”

The flight simulation held in Hamburg continues to build upon the foundations of the static proof of concept (PoC) Volocopter and DB Schenker set in place in July earlier this year in Stuttgart. The PoC established a blueprint of how to incorporate VoloDrone operations in logistics facilities globally. In completing the first public flight of the VoloDrone in Hamburg, Volocopter and DB Schenker have demonstrated how drone operations can expand the current logistics infrastructure for land or sea transport to form completely new supply chains and transport routes.

An uncrewed, fully electric utility drone, the VoloDrone is designed to carry any of the six International Organization for Standardization (ISO) pallet sizes, weighing up to 200 kilograms, over a 40-kilometer range. The electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is designed to complete challenging missions across diverse industries. As just one part of Volocopter’s robust UAM aircraft portfolio for transporting passengers (VoloCity and VoloConnect) and goods in cities, the VoloDrone is positioned to be deployed where traditional transportation methods reach their limits.

UAM employs innovative aircraft in order to offer mobility solutions to metropolitan areas. As well as developing the aircraft, Volocopter is organizing the physical (VoloPorts) and digital (VoloIQ) infrastructure to support these services, which are positioned to launch in the next 2-3 years. VoloIQ serves as the digital backbone for operations. The platform will support ecosystem aspects such as Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO), Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO), Flight Analytics, Vehicle Connectivity, Autonomous Operations, and more.

The VoloDrone’s initial flight took place back in 2019. In the years following, regular flight tests have been held 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 entirely electric with autonomous beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities.

Read more about Voloports, Volocopter, Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), and when AAM may be coming in the U.S.

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.