Just a decade ago, toy drones took the world by storm. Today, we are sure that their larger siblings – heavy lift cargo drones like Volocopter’s VoloDrone – will do the same with the logistics industry. From agriculture to business logistics, drones are reshaping the way we think about transporting products to their destinations. As we said before, drones promise fast, cost-efficient and sustainable deliveries with a wide field of applications. So, we are collaborating with one of the most advanced electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) developers in the industry to showcase and develop this technology.
What is the VoloDrone? What makes this drone so unique to the logistics industry? This is the article with all the details.
A Bigger Load with Smaller Footprint
What is a VoloDrone? A VoloDrone is a fully electric utility drone capable of carrying a 200 kg (~440 lbs) a range of 40 km (~25 miles) that considers both purpose and sustainability in its design. Furthermore, the VoloDrone is very adaptable with its flexible standardized payload attachment system for mounting different devices to its frame. Together with DB Schenker, Volocopter will be developing this unmanned product to meet modern logistical needs with an autonomous, future-focused product.
How about the technical aspects? The VoloDrone has 18 rotors (i.e. multicopter) that span a diameter of 9.2 m using exchangeable lithium-ion batteries. With one battery charge, a VoloDrone can fly 30 minutes and be operated remotely or automatically on a pre-programmed route. In short, this is the drone that is multi-purpose, adaptable for any terrain, and ready to carry heavy loads in a way helicopters cannot – cheaper and 100% electrically.
Where do we see its potential? Since VoloDrones can fly over terrain that would normally be difficult for current transport options to navigate, they have the potential to be a faster logistical option for mountain deliveries, construction site support, and shore to shop deliveries. Better yet, they could further enhance middle mile deliveries in areas with heavy traffic or bodies of water.
A Productive Partnership
DB Schenker and Volocopter have only been collaborating on the VoloDrone project since mid-2019. However, the VoloDrone collaboration has been years in the making. What started out as a utility drone project from Volocopter in 2018 has grown to be a fruitful partnership with a leader in supply chain management and logistics solutions. By pairing DB Schenker’s logistical expertise with Volocopter’s eVTOL know-how, the two companies are preparing to show the world what the next generation of heavy-lift drones can do.
“By integrating the VoloDrone into our supply chain of the future we will be able to serve our clients’ demand for fast, remote, emission-neutral deliveries. We are thrilled to now be part of this drive for innovation in a fantastic team.” – Jochen Thewes, CEO of DB Schenker.
Volocopter was founded in 2011 by Alexander Zosel and Stephan Wolf. Today, the German start-up is pioneering the urban air mobility scene with their unique electric vertical take-off and landing (i.e. eVTOL) technology. While part of their business is focusing on producing safe, electrical air taxis, this same technology can be used to elevate the bar for logistics. DB Schenker saw this and is now integrating our expertise to help VoloDrones reach their maximum potential as quickly as possible.
“DB Schenker has an incredibly valuable and extensive global network of partners and clients meaning they know where our VoloDrones can best meet international logistical needs,” said Peter Littau, Volocopter Commercial Lead for VoloDrone. “They have been a very collaborative partner for this project, and I am happy to be a part of combining the expertise from both sides to bring this project to life.”
The Next Steps and the Common Goal
In order to apply this innovative technology in the near future, DB Schenker and Volocopter are working towards creating a VoloDrone to safely meet all the requirements to implement logistic services. This starts with investigating where the VoloDrone will be most useful such as in cases where heavy deliveries need to be made over water or up mountains quickly. At the same time, the partners are working to develop this emission neutral, electric option for the future of logistics.
“We are the experts in making electrically powered heavy lift drones that are best in class in terms of safety and carrying a significant payload to its destination no matter the ground situation,” said Christophe Hommet, Volocopter Chief Engineer of VoloDrone. “DB Schenker is a world class partner that knows where this technology can be applied. As such, we are a winning team.”
Upon receiving certification, the two will be able to transition to offering VoloDrone delivery services for businesses around the world.
Who knows? Maybe in three years, you will be shipping your own packages via VoloDrone!