Volansi completes first-ever autonomous ship-to-ship drone delivery

Volansi cargo drone

Volansi, one of the leading companies in autonomous, point-to-point deliveries using fixed-wing Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) drones, is today announcing a huge milestone: It completed the first-ever autonomous drone delivery between two ships.

The cargo deliveries – there were three of them – took place July 18 off the coast of Key West, Florida. Both its VOLY 10 and VOLY 20 series of drones were involved, with two flights covering 15 nautical miles and one flight covering one nautical mile.

Volansi says this is the first time ever that an autonomous drone has carried out such missions, carrying cargo between two moving US government vessels. That’s quite an accomplishment.


The VOLY 10 is capable of carrying 10 pounds ( kg) over a range of 42 miles ( km). That Uncrewed Aerial System carried out two flights, taking off from a military Sealift Command Expeditionary Transport, flying 15 nautical miles and successfully landing on the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Cutter William Trump. The UAS features a 4+1 configuration, meaning four motors are used for its VTOL capabilities, while a rear-mounted pusher prop takes care of thrust for fixed-wing flight.

VOLY 10, approaching its destination. (Image courtesy Volansi)


The VOLY 20 has greater range and cargo capacity. It utilizes eight motors for the VTOL portion of its flights, largely due to the extra weight and cargo capacity. The VOLY 20 can carry 20 pounds of cargo over a whopping 350 miles, with a cruising speed of 75 miles per hour ( kph). Its mission was one nautical mile, carried out in 20 mph winds to the Gotcha, a USCG Panga, before returning to the Military Sealift Command.

The VOLY 20 in VTOL mode… (Image courtesy Volansi)

Volansi says this ship-to-ship drone delivery is a big deal

Why is that? We’ll let the news release explain:

Remote locations and austere environments can impede delivery of critical parts or supplies in theater and make collecting information for situational awareness on missions difficult or, at times, impossible. Volansi’s fleet of UAS VTOL capability removes these limitations thanks to runway independence, a small operational footprint and, on some platforms, the ability to carry cargo and sensors simultaneously. 

Gotta love that view, taken with a GoPro

Not surprisingly, Volansi CEO Dr. Will Roper is proud of this achievement:

This is a remarkable milestone that signals a bright future for autonomous cargo delivery. Volansi is the first to deliver cargo by UAS systems with ISR capability off a government vessel utilizing a single ground control station. With it’s cutting-edge VTOL capabilities, Volansi is well-positioned to deliver critical cargo supplies to our defense customers for time-sensitive missions in order to save time, money and lives. We look forward to expanding our fleet in order to deliver heavier payloads and travel further distances in the near future.

Volansi on display

If you happen to be attending Sea-Air-Space, the Navy League’s Global Maritime Exposition, check out Volansi’s exhibit. The company will be there August 1-4 in Maryland.

Btw, we’ve written about Volansi before. If you’re intrigued by the company’s products, check out one of our earlier stories about receiving BVLOS approval.

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