German UAV startup Wingcopter is collaborating with UPS Flight Forward to develop a next-generation delivery drone solution for packages.
“Drone delivery is not a one-size-fits-all operation,” said Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS Advanced Technology Group.
“Our collaboration with Wingcopter helps pave the way for us to start drone delivery service in new use-cases. UPS Flight Forward is building a network of technology partners to broaden our unique capability to serve customers and extend our leadership in drone delivery.”
UPS announced the launch of UPSFF last year after filing for FAA authorization. The FAA granted Part 135 certification in September, paving the way for the delivery service to fly further into the consumer market. UPS has since partnered with drone delivery company Matternet to ferry medical samples via drone at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, N.C.
Wingcopter and UPSFF will next seek regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States.
“We are proud to partner with UPS, a global giant in delivery and logistics. Together we aspire to extend the speed and reach of package delivery,” said Tom Plümmer, Wingcopter CEO.
“Our vision has always been to leverage technology to improve the lives of people around the world, and the strategic relationship with UPS will further accelerate our growth and global expansion, strengthening our role as an industry leader in drone technology.”
Wingcopter drones can take off and land vertically. As soon as the UAV peaks to its desired flight altitude, all four rotors swivel 90 degrees. This will transform the drone into an unmanned fixed-wing vehicle in seconds.
Flexibility in flight profile gives Wingcopter drones a range of 75 miles per flight. The company reportedly holds a Guinness world record for speeds of 150 mph. Wingcopter’s autonomous flight capabilities allows it to fly in extreme weather as well.
In addition to the UPSFF partnership, Wingcopter is also working on a drone-delivery program with pharma giant Merck. The pilot program will transport pigment samples from a Merck site in Gernsheim, Germany to a lab in Darmstadt – a distance of 15.5 miles. In September, Wingcopter worked with Researchers at NUI Galway, Ireland to complete the world’s first BVLOS delivery of prescription medication and blood samples for diabetes care.