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Drone manufacturer Wingcopter secures $22M, plans to expand COVID-19 delivery pilots

German company also plans to build U.S. manufacturing plant

German drone manufacturer Wingcopter has raised $22M with plans to expand healthcare-related delivery programs and build a U.S. facility. (Photo: Wingcopter)

Wingcopter, a developer and manufacturer of unmanned delivery drones, has secured $22 million in Series A funding. The company said the money will be used to help it scale its health care-related applications, including COVID-19 vaccines.

“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,” Tom Plümmer, CEO, said in a statement. “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.”

The round was led by Silicon Valley’s Xplorer Capital, and joined by Futury Regio Growth Fund, a Germany-based growth capital fund. In addition, Futury Ventures and Hessen Kapital III participated in this round.  

“We have been impressed with the Wingcopter team and the speed at which they have developed the product and built the company. We look forward to watching and supporting them as they help to deliver vaccines in the near-term, and to deliver freight in a more sustainable way over the long-term,” Jonathan McQueen, co-founder and managing partner of Xplorer Capital, said in a statement.

Wingcopter is involved in a COVID-19 project in Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa. That project, named Drone + Data Aid, in conjunction with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), involves Wingcopter partnering with UNICEF’s African Drone and Data Academy to train local youth in drone operations. Training includes mission planning and piloting beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) delivery.

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Plümmer said COVID is changing the acceptance of drones.

“COVID is now making it necessary to build it out fast, but once it’s there we will have a new type of infrastructure that could carry things like medication, blood, lab samples and even normal daily goods,” he told Reuters.

The Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift drone provides both one- and two-way delivery. The drone lowers a package using a winch mechanism. It can also land at the point of destination and return to its origin with new payload.

The drone features a 5.8-foot wingspan and is approximately 4.3 feet long. Range is dependent on payload, with the drone able to travel 37 miles with an 8.8-pound payload and up to 74 miles when empty. It has a maximum payload of 13.2 pounds.

The Wingcopter 178 has a top speed of 93 mph, with a cruising speed of about 62 mph.

Wingcopter is working on a next-generation delivery drone at this time.

In addition to the expansion of its health care programs, Wingcopter will use some of the proceeds from the fundraise to set up serial production at its Weiterstadt, Germany, headquarters, and to grow its team of flight testers, secure certifications, increase software development and expand production capabilities, which will include a U.S. facility.

“The Wingcopter team combines entrepreneurial spirit with superior technology know-how and looks back on an impressive number of worldwide drone projects. This is what it takes to conquer a rapidly growing market such as the international drone market,” said Benjamin Krahmer, managing director of Futury Regio Growth Fund and Futury Ventures. “We are excited to support Wingcopter on its flight towards becoming a global leader in the international drone business and look forward to working together with the team and founders.”

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected].