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Volocopter partners with Schenker for trials with heavy-lift drones

German start-up Volocopter has partnered with logistics group DB Schenker to use its heavy-lift drones, in a project that will gather important practical experience before its air taxis enter service, reports finance.yahoo.com.

Volocopter is one of a number of start-ups developing battery-powered craft and, with full certification for its air taxi still some years away, it wishes to put its heavy-lift VoloDrone to work sooner.

This remote-controlled craft can lift a load of up to 200 kilograms and has a range of 40 kilometres, making it ideal for jobs such as delivering medicines to a hospital or dropping off components at a factory. Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter commented during a recent interview, “The logistics opportunity in the urban market is just as big as the passenger market.”

Volocopter-Schenker partnership is aimed at business-to-business deliveries rather than e-commerce like Amazon and others. Reuter continued, “When people associate logistics with drones they always think of the 3 kg, last-mile delivery to the doorstep. It is the middle mile, not the last mile, that we are serving.”

Florian Reuter

Schenker chose Volocopter after backing the 9 year-old startup’s USD103 million funding round in February. In total, Volocopter has raised USD144 million from investors.

Schenker CEO, Jochen Thewes, said, “Drones are a technology that would allow us to rethink supply chains for city logistics. Our common goal is to have a commercial proof case up and running next year.”

Volocopter has just started selling tickets to fly on its VoloCity air taxi, at 300 euros for a 15-minute spin. Although, the piloted aircraft has been put through its paces in demonstration flights, fans will have to wait until it enters commercial service.

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Full certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is expected for the 18-rotor VoloCity air taxi towards the end of 2022. The VoloDrone, with a similar design, should follow in 2023, Reuter said. “Any Schenker employee in a distribution centre will be able to operate this. It will be as common as having a driving licence.”

It will be possible to apply sooner for permits to fly the VoloDrone on a case-by-case basis, a task that can easily be handled by Schenker staff with basic training on a simulator.

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(News Source: https://finance.yahoo.com)

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