The German drone company Wingcopter has just begun a project that just a few years ago would have seemed fantasy – on-demand delivery of consumer goods to isolated and rural areas.
Residents of remote districts around Michelstadt in the German state of Hesse can order everyday goods such as non-perishable milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables, canned food, and other non-refrigerated products via a special website and have them delivered to their homes.
Wingcopter flies the orders to landing points just outside the villages, and they are delivered to the customers by electric cargo bike. Customers can choose from a wide range of products from the local REWE store in Michelstadt. Other local retailers will be added to the platform as the project progresses.
In these particular villages, many local retailers have closed their stores in recent years so residents must drive to Michelstadt or other towns shop – in some cases well over 10 kilometers each way.
The pilot project, which aims to improve the local supply of citizens in rural and remote areas, will run until the end of 2023 and be continued if it proves successful. Based on the experiences in Michelstadt, a sustainable and scalable business model will be developed to improve local supply in other rural regions of Germany as well through fast, ecologically reasonable and reliable delivery of everyday goods by drone, WIngcopter says. Until now, such food delivery services have been limited to urban areas.
The pilot project is being evaluated by the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences from an economic and ecological perspective. UAS, which has expertise in last mile logistics with cargo bikes and small electric vehicles, also takes care of the cargo bike rides. Vodafone ensures that Wingcopter drones have a secure and stable connection to the ground station by providing the necessary mobile communications infrastructure.
“We are really proud to pilot LieferMichel, the first drone delivery service for groceries and everyday goods in Germany,” said Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter. “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. We are deeply grateful for the hospitality of the people of Odenwald and the openness with which they have welcomed the project and the LieferMichel team.”
Groceries from the air: Wingcopter drones deliver everyday goods for the first time in Germany. Wingcopter, Oct. 5, 2023
Wingcopter drone delivers everyday goods to remote districts in Germany Inceptive Mind, Oct. 11, 2023