Germany tests drone deliveries in rural Hesse, evaluates economic and environmental impact

In a joint project, the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS) and the delivery drone manufacturer and operator Wingcopter are testing the potential of on-demand transport of consumer goods to improve local supply in rural communities. For the project called Drohnen-Lastenrad-Express-Belieferung (Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery), which is funded with almost 500,000 euros by the German Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport.

As part of the pilot project, everyday goods will be flown by Wingcopter from a medium-sized centre to surrounding smaller villages, where they will be delivered to end customers by cargo bike. The goal is to realize the fast and reliable delivery of groceries and other consumer goods to rural areas and thus improve the local supply of citizens. The use case is to be evaluated from an economic and environmental point of view and, if successful, a sustainable and easily scalable business model will be developed. The planned start of the first flights in the south of Hesse in Germany is in autumn 2023.

For economic reasons, regional retailers in rural areas in particular are often unable to offer their own delivery service. Delivery by Wingcopter delivery drones enables retailers to significantly expand their customer catchment area, as the range, speed and payload capabilities of the drones used also enable fast deliveries to more remote rural areas.

Using battery-powered Wingcopters and electric cargo bikes also enables emission-free delivery, bringing significant environmental benefits compared to road-based transport.

The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport as part of the “Innovative Air Mobility” funding program. It is scheduled to run for 12 months.

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