Wednesday 11 October 2023

Wingcopter delivers groceries by drone to remote districts in Germany


Drone maker Wingcopter has partnered with the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, the REWE Group, Vodafone, Riese & Müller and the city of Michelstadt for a pilot project aimed at delivering groceries to customers in remote regions of Germany.

If you live in the city, or even out in the 'burbs, you may have gone online to order local goods or meals for delivery by bike courier within a short timeframe. But folks living far away from the hustle and bustle may find such services unavailable to them. The DroLEx project could change that.

Currently being run as a pilot, it allows customers in remote districts around Michelstadt in the German state of Hesse to order non-perishable groceries via a special LieferMichel webstore, and have the goods delivered by cargo bike and drone.

The service is initially available to folks living in Rehbach and Würzberg, and once the grocery order is in, the goods are packed at the REWE store in Michelstadt and transported by a courier riding a cargo ebike to a departure point where a Wingcopter drone is waiting.

The DroLEx pilot project will initially serve customers in the remote villages of Rehbach and Würzberg until the end of 2023, but that could be extended is the service proves popular

With the package (which can weigh up to 4 kg/8.8 lb) secured in its belly, the drone takes to the air and travels at up to 90 km/h (56 mph) at altitudes of 100 m (330 ft) – using Vodafone's communications network to autonomously navigate to landing points just outside the villages. Another cargo ebike courier then removes the goods from the Wingcopter, and completes the final leg of the delivery to the customer.

Early on, the LieferMichel webstore will offer products from REWE only, but other local retailers will be added as the project moves forward. Meanwhile, the pilot will be evaluated from economic and ecological standpoints by team members at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.

"We are really proud to pilot LieferMichel, the first drone delivery service for groceries and everyday goods in Germany," said Wingcopter CEO, Tom Plümmer. "Our biggest goal is to gain experience and evaluate, together with the residents, an environmentally friendly and efficient service that creates real added value for the population in rural areas."

The pilot project has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport to the tune of €430,000 (about US$455,000), and will run until the end of 2023 – though could continue beyond that if the service proves popular.

Data gathered during the trial period will be used to develop a sustainable and scalable business model "to improve local supply in other rural regions of Germany." The video below has more.

Source: Wingcopter/New Atlas

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