In the developed world, drones continue to be a toy for gadget fans with swaths of disposable income and a handy tool for niche business models. In the developing world, however, they could become a tool for saving lives.
Lord Foster, an iconic British architect, has proposed a drone airport in Africa as a way of delivering emergency supplies like food, water and medical equipment in areas with little transportation infrastructure.
A drone airport, named the Droneport in this case, could be a leapfrog technology much like cell phones were at the end of the previous century. Similarly, a droneport could skip the need for reliable roads in the process of delivering emergency supplies, staple foods and consumer goods.
By 2050, Africa is expected to have a total population of 2.2 billion, most of whom will live in areas with neither the transportation infrastructure to deliver needed supplies nor the arable land or manufacturing to produce them locally. Each droneport will include a commerce hub, health clinic, digital fabrication shop and post office: all the components necessary for drone-serviced deliveries to replace a system that would require extensive road-building and energy infrastructure.
A pilot project could start in 2016 and will start in Rwanda. The buildings are set to finish in 2020 with a total of three buildings from which deliveries could reach 44 percent of Rwanda. This will remain the base of operations as the project expands, potentially producing 40 drone ports in Rwanda alone and branching to other countries as time progresses.
Why It’s Hot
Trend: playful technology because super useful. We’ve talked about drones for deliveries, spying…and we’ve talked about the regulatory environment in the US. This is a great example of thinking way bigger about how technology can change the world, like when we see wearables improving medical care. Looking forward to hearing more about this effort.