Volocopter partners with John Deere for agriculture cargo prototype




Shortly after revealing its new cargo drone the VoloDrone, Volocopter has announced a deal with farming-equipment manufacturer John Deere to adapt the VoloDrone for use on farms.

A demo model of the aircraft in the John Deere livery has been revealed at the agriculture-technology conference AGRITECHNICA. Whilst most agriculture drones are adapted variants of commercial drones, this is the first large eVTOL-scale one.

Both John Deere and Volocopter see several possible uses for the VoloDrone in agriculture. These include use in difficult topographies, increased efficiency in the use of agricultural chemicals and sowing seeds or frost control.

Volocopter’s founder Alexander Zosel told revolution.aero: “Expanding our technology into more industry to add value in infrastructure, logistics, agriculture and public services is a logical next step. There is a strong interest in this area, but we could not say that it’s greater than in UAM. They are different investors then and it would be possible to just invest in the VoloDrone. While it is certainly an interesting investment sphere, Volocopter remains fully focused on the Urban Air Mobility mission.”

The VoloDrone uses the same 18-rotor platform, lithium-ion batteries and in-house 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 is expected to shorten the drone’s time to market.

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

Zosel noted that the VoloDrone will provide an early commercial use case for the Volo platform, saying: “It is certainly a further opportunity to collect flight hours and knowledge of the platform in general. However, the VoloDrone and our VoloCity will be developed independently of each other.”

“Due to the fact that regulations in the agricultural industry are not as strict as in commercial aviation, it is very possible that cargo eVTOLs will be used commercially in farming before UAM air taxis.”