Volocopter has partnered with Austrian vehicle manufacturer Schwarzmüller to create a “Mobile Vertipad” for the eVTOL VoloDrone.
Presented this week at the ITS World Congress 2021 in Hamburg, Germany, the Mobile Vertipad matches the dimensions of a conventional long-haul trailer with a length of 12 meters (40 feet). With the push of a button, a substructure of metal profiles extends from the chassis, after which the container unfolds its walls in origami fashion to create a circular platform 20 meters (65 feet) in diameter.
The Mobile Vertipad’s design allows for quick dismantling as well as rapid deployment, meaning that it can be readily moved to any location. According to Volocopter, this was a key project goal.
“We want to offer our industrial customers an end-to-end solution that enables VoloDrone services at any time by ensuring short lead times,” Volocopter chief commercial officer Christian Bauer explained in a press release.
The VoloDrone, which made a successful first public flight at the ITS World Congress this week, is designed to transport a load of 200 kilograms (440 pounds) up to 40 kilometers (25 miles). Volocopter believes it will have a variety of applications across multiple industries, ranging from logistics and agriculture to infrastructure and public utilities.
In the Hamburg demonstration flight, Volocopter and its strategic investor DB Schenker illustrated the VoloDrone’s potential in multi-modal, last-mile freight transport. Schwarzmüller kept that potential top of mind in undertaking its concept study for the Mobile Vertipad, for which it consulted with the Austrian design and engineering studio Bumblebee.
“The Mobile Vertipad is completely multimodal,” emphasized Schwarzmüller CEO Roland Hartwig. “It connects roads, rails, air, and ships in last-mile freight transport. The cargo drone creates the connection, Schwarzmüller provides the mobile infrastructure to enable the connection.”
The Mobile Vertipad trailer includes a loading container built on top of the chassis to hold the VoloDrone. In addition to offering transport and launch capabilities, it is designed to be used as a charging station for the VoloDrone’s batteries and a location for technical maintenance.
Schwarzmüller expects to begin testing the Mobile Vertipad in early 2023. Hartwig sees the company’s collaboration with Volocopter as an entry point to additional opportunities in advanced air mobility, noting: “Not only are we proud of the partnership, but we want to expand into this strongly future-oriented business field of transportation.”