Wingcopter Drones Deliver Everyday Goods for the First Time in Germany

A simulated Wingcopter delivery in Michelstadt, Germany. Image courtesy of Wingcopter.

MICHELSTADT—Wingcopter and the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS) today launched the “DroLEx-Drohnen-Lastenrad-Express-Belieferung“ (Drone-Cargo Bike Express Delivery) project.

Under the name “LieferMichel,” the pilot project offers residents of remote districts in Michelstadt, Hesse, the opportunity to have groceries and consumer goods delivered to their homes quickly and emission-free by Wingcopter delivery drone and cargo bike. The drone deliveries are intended to sustainably improve local supply in the region. The project is being funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) as part of the Innovative Air Mobility funding directive with a total of around 430,000 euros.

Initially, the two districts of Rehbach and Würzberg, well outside Michelstadt, will be served. Residents of these districts can order everyday goods such as non-perishable milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, canned food and many other non-refrigerated products via the website and have them delivered to their homes at a desired time. The orders are flown by Wingcopter to set landing points just outside of the villages, from where they are transported to the end customers by electric cargo bike. To start with, a wide range of products from the local REWE store will be available for selection. Other local retailers will be added to the platform as the project progresses.

“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,” said Wingcopter CEO Tom Plümmer.

The pilot project is being scientifically accompanied by the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, which is evaluating the service from an economic and ecological perspective. The Frankfurt UAS also takes care of the cargo bike rides. It has a profound expertise in the field of last-mile logistics with cargo bikes and small electric vehicles.

Alongside the city of Michelstadt and REWE, Vodafone and Riese & Müller are associated project partners. The mobile communications company Vodafone provides the mobile communications infrastructure so the Wingcopter drones have a secure and stable connection to the ground station throughout the flight. The cargo bikes used are produced and provided by e-bike pioneer Riese & Müller, also based in the Odenwald region.

In the villages involved, many local retailers have closed their stores in recent years, forcing residents to drive to Michelstadt or other towns to do their shopping, in some cases well over 10 kilometers each way. Especially for smaller errands weighing up to 4 kilograms, LieferMichel users can now leave their cars behind. Another advantage is that flying with the all-electric delivery drones is also more environmentally friendly than traveling by car.

The project will initially run until the end of 2023 and will be continued if it proves successful.