Having conducted test flights since its announcement in 2019, urban air mobility (UAM) provider, Volocopter has now completed the first public flight of its all-electric heavy-lift cargo drone, the Volodrone. In a press release, the company said that the flight demonstrated how drone operations could extend existing infrastructure to create new transport routes and supply chains.
With 18 rotors to provide the necessary lift, the Volodrone is designed to carry up to 440 pounds (200 kg) over a 24 mile (40 km) range. The drone is 30-feet wide (9.15 m diameter), 7-feet (2.15 m) tall and can carry a maximum of 1322 pounds (600 kg) at lift-off. For its payloads, this electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft can carry any of the six pallet configurations that International Standards Organization (ISO) recognizes, the company said.
For its public flight, the drone flew for three minutes from the company base in Hamburg and reached an altitude of 72 feet (22 m) before returning. The demonstration crew had secured a load-box between its landing gears which was then delivered to a cargo bike from its logistics partner, DB Schenker, which then made an all-electric delivery possible.
"We are the only UAM company offering solutions for passengers and goods that are flying fully scaled and publicly around the world," Florian Reuter, Volocopter's CEO claimed in the press release. "Our VoloDrone will make existing logistics processes more robust, efficient, and sustainable."
In addition to drones, Volocopter is also developing the supporting infrastructure that will be needed to support these services. Among these are Voloports, physical areas in urban infrastructure that will serve as take-off and landing spots for the company's air taxis, VoloCity and VoloConnect, and providing ground operations such as cargo and passenger handling. Aside from this, the company is also building the digital backbone that will join together the necessary parts such as Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO), Flight Analytics, Vehicle Connectivity, Autonomous Operations to deliver a seamless experience for the users.
Following the successful public flight, the company expects to launch its services in the next 2-3 years, the press release said.