It’s been a minute since we heard from Volocopter. We last checked what they’d been up to back in 2016, when the German company began testing its massive drones with human test pilots. Turns out it’s been working hard, and took its VoloDrone out for a public test drive yesterday to demonstrate its cargo transport potential.
Drone small step
If you haven’t heard of the VoloDrone, in a nutshell, it’s a gigantic drone. How gigantic? Well, it takes 18 rotors to get it off the ground, it has a maximum cargo capacity of 200 kilos and, with a cockpit fitted, it can carry a person. At the moment it has a 40-kilometre range, and tops out at 80kmph. That’s not going to break the sound barrier, but considering it can plot routes as the crow flies it most likely leads to substantially quicker transport times than through more traditional means. So it’s not exactly something you’d see flying around your neighbour’s garden. Maybe a Jetsons-esque future.
The latest iteration of the VoloDrone comes kitted out with a substantial cargo hold, with which it can deliver some hefty cargo. The public demonstration, carried out in collaboration with logistics group DG Schenker, shows a full delivery procedure, beginning with the craft’s loading procedure and ending with it back on the ground and, naturally, unloaded.
Now, due to the safety risks posed by a massive hunk of remotely piloted metal boosting around the air, it’ll probably be some time before we see fleets of them making deliveries and taxi-ing folks to work. You know, to work out the relevant legislation and put some solid infrastructure in place. Fair enough.
But as a concept, and a representation of what’s to come, the Volocopter is awesome. We don’t really see it delivering consumer goods though. More likely it’ll be used for inter-business solutions, or to get substantial payloads to hazardous or hard-to-access areas. Say for emergency medical treatment, research or rescue services.