Italian industrial UAV specialist FlyingBasket says it has successfully completed its first heavy-lift cargo drone flights in a major urban area.
FlyingBasket’s trials were conducted this week in Turin, in partnership with aerospace, defense, and security company Leonardo, and the national postal service Poste Italiane. The test runs consisted of two different FlyingBasket FB3 electric takeoff and landing cargo drones carrying 26 kg. payloads of mail from a municipal sorting station to a destination 3.9 km away. The objective of the operation was to demonstrate the fast, efficient, and safe use of heavy-lift UAV for freight hauling – in this instance, above a major urban center for the first time ever in Italy.
The missions marketed another milestone in FlyingBasket’s work designing, producing, and operating its industrial heavy-lift cargo drones, which operate on eight rotors and can carry payloads of up to 100 kg.
Founded in 2015, the company has been offering regular commercial UAV freight transportation with the FB3 since it was certified to do so by Italian authorities in 2020 – albeit only over sparsely populated areas. The company later received what it says was the first authorization ever by Italy’s aviation authority, ENAC, to operate cross-border cargo drone flight. Its selection to oversee the Turin trial flights largely issued from there.
The company further specializes in providing heavy-lift cargo drone service to destinations difficult to access using conventional motorized vehicles, such as mountainous areas, islands, and remote locales. In addition to transport, FlyingBasket also provides civil protection services, cable stretching, monitoring, multi-sensor-analysis, and other made-to-order operations.
The Turin flights involved the two FlyingBasket heavy-lift cargo drones carrying their 26 kg. postal payloads in different ways. One of the craft used a sling and hook system to enable delivery at the destination without having to touch down – the other relied on an internal freight compartment that facilitated the off- and on-loading of more fragile payloads after landing, and protected them from the elements during flight.
In addition to demonstrating the efficiency and safety of freight drone deliveries over a large city, the trial flights also successfully tested the performance of beyond visual line of sight operations in a major urban setting.
“The future of logistics lies with autonomous cargo transportation,” said FlyingBasket CEO Moritz Morode. “This mission demonstrated the incredible potential of cargo drones in metropolitan areas. Today we transport 100kg with a single drone, in the future a fleet of autonomous drones will not only be able to keep up with rising logistics demand, but also increase flexibility and reduce delivery time.”
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