Wingcopter, in collaboration with Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS), has initiated a drone and cargo bike delivery pilot project called "LieferMichel" in Michelstadt, Hesse. The service aims to offer residents in isolated districts a more efficient and eco-friendly method to receive groceries and everyday items.
Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) with approximately 430,000 euros, the project is part of the "Innovative Air Mobility" initiative. Initially targeting the Rehbach and Würzberg districts, residents can order non-perishable products through www.liefermichel.de for drone delivery to specific landing sites near their villages. From there, electric cargo bikes will transport the goods to individual homes.
A selection of items from a local REWE store will be the first available on the platform, with other local retailers joining in due course.
The Frankfurt UAS, which is monitoring the project's economic and ecological impacts, is also managing the cargo bike operations, leveraging its expertise in last-mile logistics.
Partnerships have been established with Vodafone, who ensures a stable mobile communications connection for the drones, and Riese & Müller, the regional e-bike manufacturer supplying the cargo bikes.
In light of local store closures in recent years, residents previously had to travel considerable distances for groceries. The LieferMichel initiative provides an alternative, especially for small orders weighing up to 4 kilograms. The all-electric delivery drones offer a greener transportation method compared to conventional vehicles.
The long-term objective, based on outcomes from this pilot, is to create a sustainable model that can be replicated in other German rural areas.
Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, expressed gratitude to the people of Odenwald and emphasized the value of an eco-friendly and efficient service. Prof. Dr. Kai-Oliver Schocke of Frankfurt UAS sees potential benefits for both residents and retailers, while Dr. Tobias Robischon, Michelstadt's mayor, highlighted the significance of local supply in remote neighborhoods.
The pilot project is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2023, with plans for continuation if deemed successful.