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Germany, Bavaria, Foothills of the Alps, Toelzer Land, Aerial view of Sachsenkam

Wingcopter Delivery Drones Improve Local Supply in Rural German Areas

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M Crosby

Today, drone manufacturer Wingcopter and the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS) received funding certificates for their joint project in Berlin. Known as “DroLEx – Drohnen-Lastenrad-Express-Belieferung“ (“Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery”), the project will conduct tests to evaluate the potential of on-demand transport of consumer goods in improving local supply in rural communities. The first project of its kind in Germany, DroLEx is funded with nearly 500,000 euros by the German Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport as part of the “Innovative Air Mobility” funding program.

The pilot project will see battery-powered Wingcopter drones fly everyday goods from a medium-sized center to surrounding smaller villages, from which they will be transported to customers via electric cargo bike for emission free delivery. The purpose of the project is to establish a fast and reliable delivery service for groceries and other consumer goods in rural areas, therefore improving the local supply of citizens. Upon being evaluated from an economic and environmental perspective, if successful, the partners will set about developing a sustainable and easily scalable business model. The first flights in the south of Hesse in Germany are planned to start in spring 2023, with the program scheduled to run for 12 months.

“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,” said Professor Dr. Kai-Oliver Schocke, Director of the Frankfurt UAS Research Lab for Urban Transport (ReLUT). “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.”

Regional retailers within rural locations are seldom able to provide their own delivery service due to economic factors. Wingcopter’s delivery drones will allow these retailers to increase their customer base, with the drones’ range, speed and payload capabilities allowing for rapid deliveries to more isolated rural areas.

“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,” said Selina Herzog, Head of Service Solution Design and Planning at Wingcopter. “We are pleased to now be able to evaluate this use case over a longer period of time.”

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.

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