Innovation That Matters

The Wingcopter | Photo source Wingcopter

Partnership develops vertical takeoff and landing delivery drones

Mobility & Transport

A collaboration between UPS and a German drone maker could greatly expand the use of drones for delivering medical supplies – and more

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Spotted: Last year, American logistics leader UPS took the first step towards package delivery by drones when its Flight Forward program was granted certification for unlimited flight by the Federal Aviation Administration. Now, UPS has joined forces with German drone maker Wingcopter to develop a fleet of vertical takeoff and landing delivery drones. The partnership could set a precedent for regular delivery by drone.

Wingcopter’s electric drones are able to take off and land vertically using a tilt-rotor mechanism. This mechanism also enables the drones to make a seamless transition between multi-copter mode, used for hovering, and a fixed-wing mode for forward-flight. Shifting between the two modes allows the craft to operate with greater stability. The drones can fly autonomously at up to 150 mph (240 km/h), have a range of 75 miles (120 km) and can stay on course in winds up to 44 mph (70 km/h).

Wingcopter has already been used for diverse projects, such as factory-to-factory deliveries and for emergency medical supplies. The company’s drones have delivered insulin to remote Irish islands in the North Sea; and in Vanuatu they are used for on-demand vaccine supply, delivering vaccines from a central location to different health centres in minutes.

The goal of drone delivery systems is to allow goods to travel more rapidly and efficiently than on the roads. So, it is no wonder that a wide number of companies are working to develop this capability. At Springwise, we have covered innovations in this space that include the use of drones to carry firefighting equipment and to search for avalanche victims.

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