Delivery from robotic drones and pandemics make the supply chain of today look like something of a dystopian novel of a fictional future. But this is reality, now that Wingcopter finishes its first series funding, resulting in $22 million. In May 2020, the drone manufacturer partnered with Skyports and backed by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership for a trial in vaccine delivery to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19). As vaccine rollouts become a reality, Wingcopter plans to use its funding to help speed up and optimize the process.
However, its future in drone production does not rely solely on the vaccine rollout but delivery across the board. Drones will be available for purchase but Wingcopter is also investing in drone-delivery-as-a-service for companies who do not wish to maintain a fleet of drones, hire and train pilots, or run operations themselves.
- The financing round was led by Silicon Valley-based Xplorer Capital, a key investor in autonomous technologies, and Futury Regio Growth Fund, a Germany-based growth capital fund focusing on investments in globally scalable business models. In addition, Futury Ventures and Hessen Kapital III participated in this financing round.
- The current model, the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift, provides both one- and two-way delivery, covering distances of up to 120 kilometers. It can accurately lower a package through a winch mechanism, or land at the point of destination and return to its origin with new payload. Pre-orders are available.
- A portion of the new capital is allocated to setting up a partially automated serial production at Wingcopter’s new headquarters in Weiterstadt, Germany, already home to more than 100 employees. Wingcopter plans to further grow the team in the fields of flight testing, certification, production (including a new U.S. facility), and software development, specifically focused on ground and flight control software, embedded systems, software architecture, and cloud infrastructure.
- In Malawi, Wingcopter recently started a long-term COVID-19 response project named Drone + Data Aid to improve healthcare supply chains together with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 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.
"Our team is driven by tackling the world’s challenges through scalable innovations," says Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter. "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, impacting billions of lives - a situation further exacerbated by COVID-19. With the support and powerful networks of our investors we are taking a huge step closer to fulfilling our vision of creating efficient and sustainable drone solutions that improve and save lives everywhere.”