Skip to main content

Check out this mega-drone designed for hefty payloads

Most delivery drones undergoing testing today are small and light enough to pick up with one hand, with payloads usually comprising a snack or some meds.

Volocopter, however, has built a much larger drone-like machine for much heavier payloads.

In the VoloDrone’s first-ever public flight this week, the German company demonstrated the vehicle’s airworthiness and showed how it can be deployed for cargo transportation.

Conducted in partnership with logistics firm and Volocopter investor DG Schenker, the demonstration involved a typical drone-delivery operation, including loading, launch, flight, landing, and unloading.

The VoloDrone electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft was first unveiled in 2019 as a greener solution for transporting large payloads, with the aircraft able to be flown remotely or autonomously.

Since then, the company has been refining the design of the 18-rotor vehicle, with changes including the addition of a robust container to replace the cargo-carrying net seen with an earlier version.

The VoloDrone has a range of 25 miles (40 km) and can carry payloads of up to 440 pounds (200 kg) while flying at a cruising speed of 50 mph (80 kph).

While we don’t envisage the VoloDrone delivering large televisions or other bulky items to online shoppers on behalf of companies like Amazon, we can certainly see it being a useful solution for business-to-business operations such as middle-mile delivery or for taking inventory to remote areas. The VoloDrone could also be used to get vital supplies to difficult-to-reach locations impacted by disasters, and for daily operations on places likes constructions sites.

Volocopter launched 10 years ago with a passenger-carrying aircraft that inspired the design of the VoloDrone. Earlier this year the company unveiled another machine, the VoloConnect, an eVTOL aircraft capable of carrying four passengers at speeds of up to 112 mph (180 kph) on journeys of up to 62 miles (100 km). The company says it’s planning to test full-scale prototypes of the VoloConnect with the aim of gaining certification in the next five years. Its fleet also includes the VoloCity, a smaller eVTOL aircraft for two passengers.

Volocopter is in a race with other companies to build a so-called “flying taxi” for environmentally friendly urban mobility services, though regulators will have to be happy with the aircraft design and associated infrastructure before any such service can become a reality.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Wing drone delivery heads to first U.S. metro area
A Wing delivery drone in flight.

Drone-delivery leader Wing is gearing up to launch its first service in a major U.S. metro area.

Up to now, the Alphabet-owned company has been trialing drone-delivery services in several cities in Australia and Finland, as well as the small community of Christiansburg, Virginia, with more than 130,000 commercial deliveries completed globally to date.

Read more
Drone pilots face hefty fine if they fly near the Super Bowl
DJI Mavic 2 Pro

Drone pilots have been warned to keep their flying machines well away from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, during Super Bowl 2022 or face a hefty fine of at least $30,000 and potential criminal prosecution. On top of that, drones spotted within the designated no-fly zone could be knocked out of the sky with “deadly force,” according to a flight advisory from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

A temporary flight restriction will be in effect from 2:30 p.m. through 8:30 p.m. PT during the big game on Sunday, February 13. The flight ban covers a 30-nautical-mile radius of the stadium and extends 18,000 feet skyward.

Read more
New drone owner? Check out this video before you fly
dji mavic 2 pro zoom drone deals best buy summer sale 2020 2018 768x479 c

With drones once again expected to be a hot-ticket item over the holiday season, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has launched a safety campaign urging new pilots to follow the rules and take care.

The effort includes a video (below) highlighting the basics and a “12 days of drones” social media campaign with posts featuring various drone-related safety rules.

Read more