Wingcopter was founded in 2017 by Tom Plümmer, Jonathan Hesselbarth, and Ansgar Kadura out of Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany. Wingcopter’s goal is to use drone technology to address issues of supply and demand. As described on their website “Two billion people worldwide lack adequate access to medical care. Meanwhile, companies and organizations often struggle to transport urgently needed supply to their final destinations due to lack of infrastructure and challenging terrain – leading to slower delivery times and higher costs.” After years of research and thousands of hours of trials, Wingcopter has launched a unique autonomous delivery drone.
What sets Wingcopter apart from other drone delivery companies is the custom designed drones they have created. The first drone is the Wingcopter 178, an eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) drone that is fully autonomous and can be flown BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight). The drone combines fixed wings and rotors for optimal flight with a patented tilt-rotor mechanism. The combination of fixed wings and the tilt-rotor mechanism means the drone can be flown in all kinds of weather while expending minimum energy. From tip to tail, the Wingcopter 178 is 4.3ft long with a 5.8ft long wingspan. The drone has a top speed of 93mph when in fixed wing mode and can carry a payload of up to 13lbs. When carrying the maximum payload the drone has a range of just under 25 miles. With no payload, the drone’s range is increased to nearly 75 miles. These factors mean the drone can be used for delivery options as well as surveying and mapping.
The company’s newest drone is Wingcopter 198. The new drone is based on the original Wingcopter 178, but significantly larger and more powerful. The Wingcopter 198 measures 5ft from tip to tail with a 6.4ft wingspan. Both drones have the same speed capabilities. The big difference is that Wingcopter 198 is designed to make deliveries to 3 different locations. The maximum payload for a single drop is still 13lbs. When being used to make 3 drops, the maximum payload is 11lbs to compensate for the energy needed for the drone to complete all 3 drops. With the 11lb payload, the Wingcopter 198 has a 46.6 mile range. Because the drone is slightly larger, it has a 68 mile range when not carrying any additional weight.
Not only are Wingcopter’s drones ideal for carrying large payloads over wide ranges, but they do so with the highest degree of ease and safety. As their website states, “Reliable and safe flight operations are fundamental requirements for viable and scalable drone delivery solutions beyond visual line of sight.” Wingcopter accomplishes this with a redundant flight control system. A customer can input a flight plan and the redundancy plan executes the mission safely and autonomously. The redundancy system even allows the drone to be realistically flown BVLOS. If the drone faces a hardware malfunction, it has backup rotors and batteries that will ensure the drone automatically lands safely to be repaired. Additionally, the drone has an advanced sense and avoid system with multiple cameras to keep any collision at bay.
With the ability to make 3 separate drops and all of the advanced safety features of the new Wingcopter 198, CEO Tom believes that this drone could revolutionize the drone delivery business. One operator can manage up to 10 drones at a time. This means that the drones can work as a fleet to become a true last mile delivery option. This would cut down on the time and expense of distribution centers. The drones are loaded up with parcels to be delivered and fresh batteries. An operator sitting in a command center enters the mission objectives and monitors the fleet as they make their deliveries. When the mission is complete, the drones return and land. Within only moments a fresh battery and payload are swapped out, and the drones are ready to go again.
Wingcopter has completed 3 rounds of funding, the latest this past January, with a total of $22 million. The company is now ready to start making scaleable drone delivery fleet options available to interested customers. All that is needed from any interested parties is a refundable deposit of $1,200. This is a fraction of the cost most companies spend on last mile delivery resources. While saving companies money, these drones will also enable streamlined delivery processes. And as Wingcopter explains, “Every aspect is designed to optimize safety reliability, efficiency of operations, and to provide maximum payload and range.” Wingcopter has developed a system that will make drone based deliveries actionable.