Volocopter GmbH was founded in 2011 in Karlsruhe, Germany, by Alexander Zosel and Stephen Wolf with the intent of making an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) multicopter aircraft for fast and efficient urban travel. On Oct. 21, 2011, the company made history by making the first crewed flight in the world of a multicopter, named the VC1. The multicopter was flown in southwest Germany by co-founder, primary designer, inventor and builder, Thomas Senkel. The Guinness Book of World Records has the historic flight listed on their website. The company was originally known as "e-volo GmbH" until being renamed to "Volocopter GmbH" in July 2017 and the company is now based in Bruchsal, Germany.
To meet the needs of a lower cost drone with a heavy lifting capability, Volocopter began the VoloDrone project in 2018.
VoloDrone heavy-lift eVTOL air cargo drone
The VoloDrone is an uncrewed heavy-lift eVTOL air cargo drone that is remotely piloted or can fly in pre-set routes. The drone has a maximum payload of 200 kg (441 lb). The cruise speed of the Volodrone is 80 km/h (50 mph) and has a maximum speed of 110 km/h (68 mph). The range of the eVTOL air cargo drone is 40 km (25 miles) and has a flight time 30 minutes.
The aircraft has 18 propellers and 18 electric motors. The aircraft is powered by multiple lithium-ion battery packs that can be changed out in less than five minutes. The diameter of the aircraft is 9.2 m (30 ft) and has a height of 2.3 m (7.5 ft). The fuselage and other components of the aircraft is made from carbon fiber composite, aircraft aluminum and 3D printed nylon. The aircraft has fixed skid landing gear.
The drone uses standardized rail attachment system, commonly applied in aerospace and logistics and can accommodate a wide variety of payloads.
- Agriculture: The drone will have the capability of carrying sprayer equipment for plant protection, seed sowing, forest management, frost control and more. The drone can cover 6 hectare/hour (One hectare is 10,000 square meters) and due to GPS control, a more selective area treatment can be achieved.
- Construction: The drone will be able to carry supplies to tops of buildings, remote areas, utilities, infrastructure jobs and other job sites which need aerial transportation using boxes, customized boxes and sling loads.
- Logistics: The drone can take premade boxes by Volocopter or take custom made boxes, for delivering a time sensitive cargo such as spare parts, medical suppliers, human organs or most any type of cargo. Anywhere that ground transportation is difficult or time consuming, air delivery by drone can solve this problem.
- Public Services: The VoloDrone can provide provide disaster relief, air rescue, or support for humanitarian aid.
The VoloDrone demonstrator performed its first flight in October 2019 and is now testing in real-life applications with lead customers. The company states the commercial product will be available soon.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL multicopter prototype cargo drone
- Piloting: Remote controlled or fly preset routes
- Payload: Cargo only. (Payload capabilities: Box, sling, sprayer, spreader, customized gear)
- Cruise speed: 80 km/h (50 mph)
- Maximum speed: 110 km/h (68 mph)
- Range: 40 km (25 miles)
- Flight time: 30 minutes
- Maximum payload: 200 kg (441 lb)
- Maximum take-off weight: 800 kg (1,764 lb)
- Propellers: 18 propellers
- Electric Motors: 18 electric motors
- Electric motor type: Brushless DC electric motor
- Power supply: Battery packs
- Batteries: Lithium-ion exchangeable batteries
- Battery change out time: Less than 5 minutes
- Fuselage and aircraft components: Carbon fiber composite, aircraft aluminum, 3D printed nylon
- Diameter: 9.2 m (30 ft)
- Height: 2.3 m (7.5 ft)
- Landing gear: Fixed skid landing gear
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), having multiple propellers and motors provides safety through redundancy for the drone and its cargo. If one, two or more motors and/or propellers fail, the other working propellers can safely land the aircraft.
- Volocopter website
- Volocopter Facebook
- Volocopter X (formerly Twitter)
- Volocopter YouTube Channel
- Volocopter Instagram
- Volocopter LinkedIn
- Volocopter WeChat
- Volocopter Wikipedia
- Article: Volocopter Expands into Utility Drone Business with Heavy-Lift VoloDrone, Volocopter, Oct. 30, 2019
- Video: VoloDrone heavy-lift utility drone demonstrator takes off, Volocopter, Oct. 30, 2019
- Article: John Deere and Volocopter Cooperate on Cargo Drone Technology, Volocopter, Nov. 7, 2019
- Article: Volocopter’s VoloDrone, Electric VTOL News, Jan. 6, 2020
- Article: DB Schenker invests as Volocopter extends Series C Round to € 87 million, Volocopter, Feb. 21, 2020
- Article: Volocopter teams up with Near Earth Autonomy to enhance capabilities of VoloDrone, Vertical Magazine, May 27, 2021
- Article: Volocopter and DB Schenker prepare for VoloDrone cargo ops, Vertical Magazine, July 1, 2021
- Article: Volocopter’s VoloDrone makes first public flight, Vertical Magazine, Oct. 12, 2021
- Article: Volocopter unveils heavy-lift delivery drone at ITS World Congress, Cities Today, Oct. 13, 2021
- Article: Volocopter’s longer-range drone taxi completes its first test flights, TechCrunch, June 7, 2022
- Article: VoloDrone completes deconfliction flights in Germany, Vertical Magazine, Nov. 30, 2022
- Article: A Complete Guide to Certification (VoloCity Air Taxi Edition), Volocopter, Dec. 7, 2022
- Article: Aerial cargo delivery: The first use cases of eVTOL aircraft, Vertical Magazine, July 7, 2023
- Article: Safran to supply electric powertrain for Volocopter’s eVTOL aircraft, Vertical Magazine, June 22, 2023
- Article: Volocopter Makes the Case For eVTOL Air Services With Roadshow In U.S. Market, FutureFlight, Nov. 3, 2023
- Article: Five Key Insights from Volocopter's In-House Experts on Decarbonization, Electric Aviation, and Volocopter, Volocopter, Nov. 19, 2023