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German drone startup Wingcopter raises €18M; will help distribute COVID-19 vaccines

Wingcopter

Darmstadt, Germany-based Wingcopter, a startup which develops and sells transport drones for humanitarian and civil applications, has raised $ 22M (approx €18M) in its Series A round of funding to advance technology leadership in drone delivery; also announces serial production.

Investors in this round

The latest 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 also participated in this round.

Use of the raised capital

Wingcopter will use the funds to strengthen its leadership position in drone-based logistics, with a special focus on healthcare-related applications, including the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition, the company also claims to have well-positioned and ready to establish more partnerships worldwide centring around other fully automated delivery applications.

A portion of the funds will also be used in setting up a partially automated serial production at Wingcopter’s new headquarters in Weiterstadt, Germany – already home to more than 100 employees. “The 7,200 square meter (77,500 square feet) site allows for a swift ramp-up to mass production to meet a constantly growing global demand. To achieve this, Wingcopter combines the scaling methods of the automotive industry with an aviation-grade discipline for quality and safety,” mentions the company in the press release. 

Everything about Wingcopter

The company was founded in 2017 by Ansgar Kadura, Jonathan Hesselbarth, and Tom Plummer. Wingcopter is a developer, manufacturer, and operator of unmanned eVTOL fixed-wing aircraft dedicated to improving the lives of people through meaningful commercial and humanitarian applications. The company focuses on the delivery of goods such as medicines to remote health facilities, packages and food to private households.

The company’s patented tilt-rotor mechanism, the electrically powered Wingcopters far exceed the range and payload capabilities of commercial multicopter drones, claims the company. “Taking off and landing vertically like multicopters, Wingcopters fly long distances as efficiently and quickly as fixed-wing aircraft, reaching ranges of up to 75 miles (120 kilometres) and a Guinness world record speed of 150 mph (240 km/h). Even in strong winds of up to 44 mph (70 km/h) or inclement weather, Wingcopters fly autonomously and reliably,” says the company. 

The drones are also used for the efficient inspection of public infrastructure and for long-range mapping applications.

Specification of unmanned eVTOL & its production

The current model, the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift, provides both one- and two-way delivery, covering distances of up to 120 kilometres. It can accurately lower a package through a winch mechanism, or land at the point of destination and return to its origin with a new payload. 

To further expand its market reach, Wingcopter is looking to launch the next generation of its aircraft, a claimed game-changing delivery drone with unmatched technical specifications.

In addition to selling drones, Wingcopter will rapidly expand its drone-delivery-as-a-service offerings. These services give customers the opportunity to instantly benefit from Wingcopter’s technology and its BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flight operations track record on five continents without having to own and maintain a fleet of drones, hire and train pilots, or run operations themselves.

Providing COVID-19 support

In Malawi, East Africa, 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.

In 2020, Wingcopter was named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, recognising its significant social impact as part of the fourth industrial revolution.

Future developments

Wingcopter plans to enter in the fields of flight testing, certification, production (including a new US facility), and software development, specifically focused on ground and flight control software, embedded systems, software architecture, and cloud infrastructure.

Tom Plummer, CEO of Wingcopter, says, “Our team is driven by tackling the world’s challenges through scalable innovations. 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.”

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