by Michael Willoughby
DB Digital Ventures, Deutsche Bahn’s vehicle for fostering new digital business models, is investing in Skyports. The young UK company intends to grow the industry for transporting goods and passengers using innovative aerial devices. DB aims to explore the vast potential that drone technology has for its customers. The two companies will test the integration of drones into logistics supply chains.
“Drone technology is developing at a rapid pace,” said Dr. Sabina Jeschke, DB Management Board Member for Digitalization and Technology. “And DB can benefit. It has to. In collaboration with Skyports, we intend to research how to participate in this dynamic development for passenger and cargo transport.”
“As an environmentally minded provider of mobility services and a leader in electromobility, Deutsche Bahn is the perfect partner for us, a company promoting the use of electric, zero-emissions aircraft,” said Duncan Walker, Chief Executive of Skyports.
The company was founded in 2017 in London, where it develops and operates landing sites for aircraft. Additionally, Skyports’ services touch on all aspects of innovative air transport, including arranging charging infrastructure and passenger handling as well as advising on legal and safety issues. DB will conduct a joint pilot project with Skyports to test the use of drones in a logistics supply chain for the first time. The project aims to make cargo transport faster, more flexible and more efficient.
On a test field in the German city of Ingolstadt, DB has already been researching how to improve drone technology as part of Urban Air Mobility, a model project sponsored by the EU. Since the project began in 2015, DB has been sending multicopters soaring on a regular basis to explore possibilities such as managing vegetation along railway lines and inspecting bridges and other structures.
The Group is investing venture capital through DB Digital Ventures to promote innovation in technology and disruptive business models. Skyports is the twelfth start-up Deutsche Bahn has invested in through this fund.
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