By Chris Stonor
After news of Volocopter’s exciting Italian escapade this week, an earlier story escaped notice. This of the company’s new “Mobile Vertipad” design to transport its heavy lift VoloDrone, reports a press release.
Volocopter has partnered with Austrian vehicle manufacturer, Schwarzmüller, to create a unique application for the classic transport trailer. The release explains, “Named the Mobile Vertipad, this trailer converts into a mobile take-off and landing platform for an electrically powered transport drone. Schwarzmüller aims to begin testing the Mobile Vertipad in early 2023.”
Heavy Lift VoloDrone
The concept is not new. EHang already has a uniquely designed transport carrier for its EHang 216 AAV which is attached to the back of a car and driven around to various events in China to exhibit. The trailer then converts into a promotional office once the craft is taken out and displayed. Certainly though, it does not have the ability of a mobile take-off and landing platform.
The Volocopter release continues, “The Mobile Vertipad is a trailer with a conventional long-haul trailer’s exact dimensions: 12 metres long, 2.4 metres wide, and 3.9 high. A loading container is built on top of the chassis to hold the VoloDrone. At the push of a button, the trailer can unfold into a platform and turn into a launch pad and loading ramp.”
It continues, “This is a two-step process: First, a substructure made of metal profiles extends from the chassis. Then, the container unfolds its walls using the origami principle, creating a circular platform 20 metres in diameter. It is dismantled as quickly as it is constructed and can be moved to any location using the tractor units.”
Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter commented, “We want to offer our industrial customers an end-to-end solution that enables VoloDrone services at any time by ensuring short lead times.” Roland Hartwig, CEO of Schwarzmüller explained, “The Mobile Vertipad is completely multimodal. It connects roads, rails, air, and ships in last-mile freight transport. The cargo drone creates the connection, Schwarzmüller provides the mobile infrastructure to enable the connection.”
The release says, “The platform can be designed for relatively low loads; the fully loaded VoloDrone weighs is about as light as a small car. For Schwarzmüller, a lightweight construction specialist, this opens up completely new possibilities for material selection. Due to the light weight, it opens up possibilities to use non-metal construction materials in the future.”
VoloDrone is Volocopter’s versatile electrically powered cargo drone. It can transport a payload of 200 kg up to 40 km. Possible VoloDrone applications are in logistics, agriculture, infrastructure, and the public utilities industry.
Among other things, heavy packages can be transported to remote locations, from the port to ships or from island to island. Further possibilities include crop protection or deliveries to construction sites.
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