SV Darmstadt 98 drone delivery Wingcopter

The coolest thing about this one particular Christmas gift? How it’s delivered

German football SV Darmstadt 98 (that’s a soccer team for the American readers out there) might have found itself a bunch of new fans — and those new fans could very well come from the drone community.

SV Darmstadt 98 is rolling out a delightful way to have its fan merchandise delivered this winter. You guessed it — it’s via drone. Assuming you live in certain districts of the town of Michelstadt, which is in Germany’s Odenwald region, you can have fan merchandise specific to local Bundesliga club SV Darmstadt 98 delivered to you via drone. That includes jerseys, scarves, and Christmas accessories. Yes, that even includes a €65 Ugly Christmas Sweater with SV 98 branding.

SV Darmstadt 98

The drone-delivered products are available for sale through a specific website called Liefer Michel (‘Liefer’ means deliver in German). Liefer Michel is the German version of a delivery service called LastMile, which was founded in Vilnius, Lithuania and focused on all sorts of last-mile delivery mechanisms (which, yes, encompasses drone delivery).

Through the Liefer Michel website, you can order a variety of items for delivery not just from the Darmstadt 98 soccer league, but also through other vendors such as grocery items from the Rewe supermarket and regional products from the Odenwaldbox range. Across all its cities served, the LastMile service delivers goods from more than 40 different stores (though not necessarily via drone).

SV Darmstadt 98 drone delivery Wingcopter

In fact, the drone deliveries specifically are executed by yet another drone delivery company — that’s German drone delivery company Wingcopter. Wingcopter is in the midst of a pilot project which incorporates orders made through LieferMichel and is also done with support from the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. It’s got government backing too, as it’s funded by the German Federal Ministry of Digital and Transport (BMDV) as part of the “Innovative Air Mobility” funding directive.

If the name Wingcopter sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been a fairly strong player in the drone delivery space. Among its differentiators is its patented tilt-rotor mechanism, allowing it to take off and land vertically like a multicopter, while flying long distances as efficiently and quickly as a fixed-wing aircraft, even in rain and wind. Earlier this spring, Wingcopter received €40 million in what’s called a ‘quasi-equity investment’ from European Investment Bank (EIB). Among the company’s other accolades are being named a 2020 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, and coming in as a finalist in the third annual AUVSI XCELLENCE Awards 2020.

Photo courtesy of Wingcopter

Just this month, Wingcopter won the Gründerszene Award 2023, which is a highly prestigious award for German startups.

According to Wingcopter, this recent bout of news technically means SV Darmstadt 98 is the first soccer club in the world to use drones to deliver merchandise to fans. Hey, it’s a pretty niche sort of ‘first’ to claim, but it’s something.

Though for now, the deliveries are still semi-limited. Don’t expect the drone to actually come to your doorstep. If you order an eligible Darmstadt 98 product and live in an eligible district of the town of Michelstadt, your goods will then by flown via Wingcopter delivery drones to fixed landing points just outside of the villages. From there, they’re actually transported the last few meters to the customer’s front door by electric cargo bike — not actually a drone.

Leave a Reply