Volocopter reveals new utility drone




Certifying a new type of aircraft is hard, maybe borderline impossible. Even Honda took 12 years to get its aircraft to market, and that was no way near as ambitious an undertaking as what eVTOL companies are planning.

During the planning and development stages  money needs to come from somewhere. As a result, VTOL start-ups are now looking at using their aircraft to carry cargo rather than passengers to get their aircraft flying and making money.

This week saw German start-up Volocopter reveal a heavy-lift utility commercial drone named the VoloDrone. With this new aircraft Volocopter hopes to gain a foothold in the logistics, agriculture, infrastructure and public services sectors.

The unmanned, fully electric aircraft can carry payloads of as much as 200kg up to 40km and can be either remotely piloted or flown automated on pre-set routes. The standardised rail attachment makes it compatible with many common payloads.

Christophe Hommet, chief engineer VoloDrone said: “Since the very beginning, we have worked with strategic partners across different industries to develop a product that will provide significant value in their specific use cases. It is therefore designed as a universal air-lift vehicle, that can be adapted to different use cases by special-purpose implements. Listening to the market demands is key for us.”

The VoloDrone uses the same 18-rotor platform, lithium-ion batteries and inhouse flight control solutions as the existing Volocopter X2 eVTOL. When time comes for certification, most of the parts have already been certified for commercial operations, which id expected to shorten the drone’s time to market.

Initial test flights of the drone this month proved its payload capability. And the company hopes to test the aircraft with customers soon.

Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter said: “Our core business remains Urban Air Mobility and the transportation of passengers. However, the technological platform of the Volocopter can bring outstanding value to a variety of additional applications.

“With the VoloDrone, Christophe (Hommet) and his team are bringing the benefits of Volocopter technology to the logistics, agriculture, infrastructure, and public services space. It expands our leading position in sustainable, fully electric eVTOLs to a host of new applications.”