German developer, manufacturer, and operator of unmanned delivery drones Wingcopter will spend $22 million to advance automated drone-based delivery with a special focus on healthcare-related applications such as distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. A financing round led by Silicon Valley-based Xplorer Capital, an investor in autonomous technologies, and German venture capital funds are providing the capital.
Wingcopter CEO Tom Plümmer says, “This chapter of our journey is dedicated to setting up logistical highways in the sky that leapfrog traditional means of transportation. Poor infrastructure has always been a barrier, especially for healthcare provision.”
In Malawi, Wingcopter recently started a long-term COVID-19 response project named Drone and Data Aid with the German Agency for Business and Economic Development to improve healthcare supply chains. As part of the undertaking, Wingcopter has partnered with UNICEF’S African Drone and Data Academy to train local youth in drone operations, from mission planning to piloting beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) delivery and surveying flights.
Wingcopter’s 178 Heavy Lift electrically powered, tilt-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) travels up to 75 miles and can lower a package via winch or land at the destination.
A portion of the new capital is allocated to setting up partially automated serial UAV production at Wingcopter’s new 77,500ft2 headquarters in Weiterstadt, Germany, already home to more than 100 employees. The company plans to launch its next-generation delivery drone and establish a U.S. production facility.
In addition to manufacturing UAVs, Wingcopter will expand its drone-delivery-as-a-service so customers can benefit from the technology without having to own and maintain a fleet of drones, hire and train pilots, or run operations.