Concept: Germany-based delivery drone manufacturing startup Wingcopter has partnered with Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS) to pilot the potential of on-demand transport of consumer goods using drones. The project is named ‘Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery’ and is intended to boost local supply in rural communities.
Nature of Disruption: The project employs battery-powered Wingcopters and electric cargo bikes to transport goods. The drones carry everyday goods from a medium-sized center to the nearby smaller villages. These goods are delivered to end customers using cargo bikes. Both drones and bikes enable emission-free delivery bringing significant environmental benefits. The drones offer a range, speed, and payload characteristics that enable quick deliveries to more remote rural locations. This feature helps retailers to expand their customer catchment area.
Outlook: Regional retailers frequently find themselves unable to provide their delivery service due to financial constraints, particularly in rural locations. The duo has successfully tested the drone delivery of goods to the rural area. Wingcopter boasts that this service can benefit people with limited mobility like the elderly or those without their cars. Moreover, it can mutually benefit both partners economically and environmentally. The Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport has funded the project with around $485,000, as part of the ‘Innovative Air Mobility’ program. The startup mentions that the pilot project is scheduled to run for one year. It intends to start its first flights in the south of Hesse in Germany in 2023. Wingcopter raised $42 million in a Series A extension round led by REWE Group, Salvia, and XAI technologies. It plans to utilize the funds to expand its drone delivery services globally. Part of the money will be used to hire nearly 80 new employees, increase manufacturing, and accelerate its research and development, as mentioned.