Friday, October 2, 2015

Rwanda to be pilot "cargo drone port" for medical supply delivery

There is a proposal by eminent British architect Norman Foster to set up "cargo drone routes capable of delivering urgent and precious supplies to remote areas on a massive scale,"and the East African nation of Rwanda has been chosen as a test case.

"Specialist drones can carry blood and life-saving supplies over 60 miles at minimal cost, providing an affordable alternative that can complement road-based deliveries," the proposal reads.

Rwanda, decimated after genocide in 1994, has rapidly rebuilt itself. The government has pushed initiatives to foster technology, and the powerful president, Paul Kagame, has a vision of turning the capital city Kigali into a regional hub for investors and multinational companies.

Government efforts have rapidly pushed mobile phone and Internet coverage across the landlocked

nation, but the "land of a thousand hills" means physical access to some areas is more challenging.

The proposal – by architecture firm Foster + Partners, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and its linked Afrotech company – hopes to see drones with a 10-foot wingspan able to carry deliveries weighing 22 pounds.

Drones with a 19.5-foot wingspan, capable of carrying payloads of 220 pounds, are planned to follow by 2025.

"Africa is a continent where the gap between the population and infrastructural growth is increasing exponentially," Foster said at the project launch earlier this month.

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