“Steel bee” delivery drone wins out over numerous competitors

by Hans Diederichs

The joint project delivAIRy of doks. innovation GmbH and thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG has won the Regulatory Sandboxes Innovation Prize of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs in the category 'Insights'. The prize was presented by the five-member expert jury headed by Thomas Jarzombek, the Federal Government Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Start-ups, in an online ceremony.

At thyssenkrupp it is affectionately known as “the steel bee”: the delivAIRy® delivery drone. It regularly takes off to deliver samples across the Duisburg steelworks site to the lab for further processing. It is part of a joint project by Kassel-based start-up doks. innovation GmbH and Germany’s biggest steel producer thyssenkrupp Steel to test drone delivery processes on the plant site.

The two partners have now been awarded the Regulatory Sandboxes Innovation Prize by the Federal Ministry for Economics for this forward-looking ongoing project. “thyssenkrupp offers an application far from last-mile-delivery that can already be implemented today,” says Benjamin Federmann, founder and managing director of doks. innovation GmbH. “Thanks to the good cooperation with thyssenkrupp and the local authorities, we can already test and establish forward-looking technologies under real conditions today.”

“The transport drone flying reliably and automatically over our works site is a concrete and visible example of digitization in everyday industrial life. This project makes transportation not only modern and digital but also sustainable, more efficient and safer,” says Bernhard Osburg, CEO of thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG.

“The winners of the Regulatory Sandboxes Innovation Prize have succeeded in exemplary fashion in bringing digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to concrete application in real-life laboratories, thus creating added value locally. At the same time, they are an encouragement to other companies, administrations, and research institutions to implement their own innovation projects. But governments are also called upon: many contributions show clearly where new innovation spaces are needed to make test projects possible,” says Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Altmaier.

Project manager Dr. Thomas Lostak, team leader Innovation at thyssenkrupp Steel, is optimistic about the future: “If the automated flying robot now proves successful for the transportation of lab samples, it could also be used in other areas of internal logistics in the future. The drone can be called individually via an app. Time-critical deliveries on our plant site in Duisburg can now be fully automated and digitized.” According to Lostak the project has also been very well received by employees. The use of the drone gives concrete form to the abstract concept of digitization and provides fresh momentum for other digitization projects.

In the Duisburg regulatory sandbox, doks. innovation and thyssenkrupp are testing what is generally regarded as the way forward: The automated drone (no pilot required) delivers samples across the plant site, flying over main roads and railway lines in the process. As soon as the transport box is attached to the drone by a patented gripper mechanism, it can be sent to its destination at the push of a button. Unlike the cars normally used for this, the drone reaches its destination in just 10 minutes, saving time and benefiting the environment. The drone also incorporates the highest safety standards and can come down at an emergency landing point if needed.

Source and photo: thyssenkrupp Steel

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