Volocopter is one of many companies working on building a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) “drone taxi” for urban mobility, but regulatory hurdles mean it’s likely to be some time before we see them in the skies above our cities.
Keen to explore other avenues of opportunity in the meantime, Germany-based Volocopter has adapted the design of its remarkable 18-rotor flying taxi to create a utility drone geared toward a range of applications.
Called the VoloDrone, the fully electric flying machine is similar in both looks and size to the Volocopter, except that it has no space for a pilot or passengers.
The VoloDrone can be operated remotely or programmed to fly autonomously, and can reach a cruising speed of 50 mph (80 kph).
With a maximum payload of 440 pounds (200 kg) and a range of 25 miles (40 km), the VoloDrone can be used to carry heavy loads across potentially long distances in a large box or a sling. The machine could also be useful on construction sites, or for delivering spare parts and emergency supplies. With custom fittings, the vehicle can also be deployed in places such as farms, where it could perform tasks such as sowing seeds and spraying crops.
The VoloDrone would be particularly useful in locations where moving reasonably large objects, or a lot of items, is a challenge due to difficult terrain.
“Over the years, we received more and more requests from diverse customer groups for a cargo variant of the Volocopter,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “As a result, in 2018, we launched a utility drone project as a largely independent activity within Volocopter.”
Reuter continued: “With the VoloDrone, we’re introducing a new unmanned product based on our original platform and expanding our leading position in sustainable and fully electric vehicles to a host of new applications.”
The VoloDrone took its first test flight this month and is now testing real-life applications with potential customers. The company says a commercial version of its new utility drone will be available soon.
Check out the video above to see the VoloDrone in action, or read on to find out more about the company’s efforts to build its incredible Volocopter drone taxi.