It is not a toy, a surveillance or information-gathering device, nor is it a military-industrial development: it is a serious working machine. At this year’s World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS World Congress) in Hamburg, the German-developed Volodrone was unveiled to the public at the Port of Hamburg.
The vehicle, designed for freight transport, is a proprietary development by the air taxi manufacturer Volocopter, who are working on the project in partnership with logistics provider DB Schenker. DB Schenker is a subsidiary of the railway company Deutsche Bahn, and last year they entered the development as an investor and partner.
The three-minute demonstration was a logistics simulation, demonstrating the capabilities and uses of the machine. The Volodrone is equipped with 18 rotors and is electrically powered. Among other things, the drone is capable of transporting ISO-compliant pallets of goods, with a maximum load capacity of 200 kg and a range of 40 kilometres (the machine reached an altitude of 22 metres during the demonstration) – making it ideal for delivering cargo to places that are otherwise difficult to reach (e.g. for delivering pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs), according to its developers.
The manufacturer also said that the standard load attachment allows the Volocopter to carry a wide range of goods, such as boxes, crates, liquids, or even machinery and equipment to construction sites. Florian Reuter, the company’s CEO, said proudly that the test flight proved that their company is a leader in the urban air mobility (UAM) segment, especially as they are the only company that he knows of that offers both passenger and freight transport solutions.
Although the CEO may have been exaggerating in his marketing, it is clear that several major German cities, including Berlin, are planning to introduce this type of freight transport solution in the coming years, and that they can expect a market for it.