A German start-up wants to use drones to deliver the coronavirus vaccine to remote areas, its chief executive told dpa on Monday.
“Even before the crisis, we supplied 19 villages in the South Pacific island state of Vanuatu [with medicine] as part of a successful pilot project,” Wingcopter chief executive Tom Pluemmer said.
The company announced on Monday that it had raised a further 18 million euros (21.9 million dollars) in venture capital from California’s Xplorer Capital and Germany’s Futury Regio Growth.
Wingcopter wants to use the fresh capital to develop a new delivery drone with greater capacities. Production is to be set up in a former electric bicycle factory in Weiterstadt.
“We have brought in experts from automobile production, with whose know-how we are currently setting up series production. In the future, we want to build tens of thousands of drones there,” Pluemmer said.
The device can ascend vertically and then fly like a propeller plane even in adverse weather conditions. The key innovation is the tilt rotors developed by co-founder Jonathan Hesselbarth, which Wingcopter had patented in 2012.
The team is expected to grow from around 100 people to more than 130 this year.
Wingcopter competes with the likes of Google and Amazon regarding the development of high-performance delivery drones. There have already been joint projects with logistics companies DHL and UPS, as well as with the Darmstadt chemical and pharmaceutical company Merck.
Production is also planned in the US, where Wingcopter is currently in the process of being approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.