The developers of the German startup Wingcopter have figured out how to remove a major technical obstacle to the widespread use of drones for delivering parcels and make the delivery business more cost-effective.
The drone maker today unveiled a new generation model, the Wingcopter 198. This all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) rotary rotor aerial vehicle (eVTOL) is capable of delivering three packages to multiple locations on a single flight. This will reduce the cost of one delivery.
The delivery drone is built on Wingcopter’s patented tilting rotor technology. It is she who allows him to rise vertically, like a helicopter, and then quietly and smoothly switch to horizontal flight. The device measures 65 x 198 x 152 cm and weighs 20 kg, including two 814 kWh lithium-ion battery modules.
The electric motor allows the drone to reach speeds of up to 150 km/h. Under ideal conditions, with a maximum payload of 5 kg, the delivery drone will fly 75 km or stay aloft for 40 minutes on a single charge. In addition, its tilting rotors automatically respond to gusts of wind.
Three packages of 22x40x19 cm can be transported at the same time. Each one is attached to its own winch. The parcel can be slowly lowered right during the flight (if the drone is hovering in the air). Also, the drone is able to land for delivery to the ground.
The system developed by the startup is fully automated: the drone courier itself flies around obstacles and drops parcels upon arrival at the destination. Thus, Plummer said, one human operator, can fly up to ten Wingcopter 198s from anywhere in the world.
The drone uses a combination of ADS-B, FLARM, and Remote ID radios, visual AI, sensors, and special obstacle avoidance software. Downward-facing cameras use AI-based optical sensing to ensure accuracy when the package is dropped and landed.
Wingcopter said one operator can fly 10 drones at the same time. At the same time, the ground station is equipped with special equipment, including a 32-inch 4K display. The main communication channel with the operator is via LTE/5G, which is supported by Iridium satellite technology. The software and interface are designed for fully autonomous flights and out-of-line-of-sight deliveries.
The company is now seeking a license from the US Federal Aviation Administration to carry out commercial cargo transportation in the country, Plummer said. In the near future, Wingcopter also intends to conduct a new round of funding. Using the raised funds, it is planned to hire specialists with experience in the field of artificial intelligence, piloting, and production.