Frankfurt UAS, Wingcopter test delivery drones to boost supply in rural areas
DroLEx project scheduled for 12-month run. First of its kind in Germany & funded by Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport
In a joint project, the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS) and the delivery drone manufacturer and operator – Wingcopter – are testing the potential of on-demand transport of consumer goods to improve local supply in rural communities.
The project called – DroLEx – Drohnen-Lastenrad-Express-Belieferung – which translates to Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery has received funding of around €500,000 from the German Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport, the funding certificates were officially handed over to the project partners in Berlin on Wednesday.
As part of the pilot project, everyday goods will be flown by Wingcopter from a medium-sized centre to surrounding smaller villages, where they will be delivered to end customers by cargo bike. The goal is to realise the fast and reliable delivery of groceries and other consumer goods to rural areas and thus improve the local supply of citizens. The use case is to be evaluated from an economic and environmental point of view and, if successful, a sustainable and easily scalable business model will be developed. The planned start of the first flights in the south of Hesse in Germany is in spring 2023.
Professor Kai-Oliver Schocke, Director of the Frankfurt UAS Research Lab for Urban Transport (ReLUT), said, "In many rural areas today, supply is severely limited due to the closure of smaller, local stores. We expect that the use of delivery drones will improve the local supply in rural areas again. From a socioeconomic perspective, this type of delivery is especially beneficial to citizens with limited mobility, such as the elderly or those without their own cars. In addition, the alternative transport option can result in economic and environmental benefits for the partners involved."
For economic reasons, regional retailers in rural areas in particular are often unable to offer their own delivery service. Delivery by Wingcopter delivery drones enables retailers to significantly expand their customer catchment area, as the range, speed and payload capabilities of the drones used also enable fast deliveries to more remote rural areas.
Using battery-powered Wingcopters and electric cargo bikes also enables emission-free delivery, bringing significant environmental benefits compared to road-based transport.
"Delivery drone applications will prevail where they serve a real need and improve lives. This is clearly the case with our medical delivery projects in Africa and other parts of the world. However, we are convinced that "Drone Delivery as a Service" offerings also have a real benefit for many people in rural areas of Germany. We are pleased to now be able to evaluate this use case over a longer period of time," said, Selina Herzog, Head of Service Solution Design and Planning at Wingcopter.
The DroLEx project is the first of its kind in Germany and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport as part of the "Innovative Air Mobility" funding program. It is scheduled to run for 12 months.
Wingcopter is a German manufacturer of eVTOL, fixed-wing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and provider of drone delivery services, focused on optimizing medical supply chains, as well as last-mile logistics of packages, tools, spare parts, food, and groceries. The 120-strong team is dedicated to improving and saving lives worldwide through meaningful commercial and humanitarian applications. Wingcopter is a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.