Getting groceries delivered to your door is perhaps not that revolutionary, but what if they were delivered by drone?
This is what villagers around Michelstadt in Germany have been enjoying.
The traditional town, full of timber-framed houses and cobbled streets, might not be the most obvious choice for an innovative drone project but it has been chosen as the testing ground for a new delivery service, ‘LieferMichel'.
Launched as part of the research project 'DroLEx' (Drone Cargo Bike Express Delivery) by Wingcopter and the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, the pilot project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport. In addition to the town of Michelstadt, other partners include Vodafone Germany, REWE and Riese & Müller.
Delivering to the customer’s door
For residents of remote villages, such as those living around Michelstadt, a weekly shop can mean travelling a distance of around 10 kilometres or more. You can imagine the frustration if they get home only to realise they’ve forgotten a key item.
Now, the inhabitants of the 600 and 800-strong towns of Rehbach and Würzberg are testing a more convenient and sustainable option for doing their weekly shop.
Using an online platform, they can buy their items and select a time for delivery. The order is put together by the REWE centre in Michelstadt and transported from there to the departure point by a Riese & Müller e-cargo bike.
From there, it is delivered to its destination by the Wingcopter delivery drone and the last mile is bridged by another e-cargo bike, which delivers the shopping right to the customer’s door.
In this way, LieferMichel customers not only save time, but also emissions - since electrically powered drones and cargo bikes are far more sustainable than a car.
With an average speed of 90 km/h and an altitude of 100 metres, the fully automated Wingcopter makes the 10-kilometre trip in less than 7 minutes. This means that the drone does not have to be controlled manually by a pilot on the ground, but instead flies the pre-programmed route independently.
To ensure that this is possible and, above all, safe, Vodafone's high-performance mobile network is used.
Equipped with a Vodafone SIM card, the drone sends and receives its location in real-time to the control station on the ground and steers itself safely across the fields and villages to its destination.
If the project is successful, it will continue past the end of the year.
In the future, the flight routes will also be planned and checked with DroNet: Germany's first digital data service for risk checks for commercial drone flights.
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