Wednesday, 7 October 2015

World first 'drone-port' planned in Rwanda

World first 'drone-port' planned in RwandaIt sounds like science fiction: unmanned drones carrying emergency medicine zooming above the rolling hills of Rwanda. But proposals -- including one by eminent British architect Norman Foster -- plan exactly that, to set up "cargo drone routes capable of delivering urgent and precious supplies to remote areas on a massive scale", with the East Africa nation of Rwanda chosen as a test case.   "Specialist drones can carry blood and life-saving supplies over 100 kilometres (60 miles) at minimal cost, providing an affordable alternative that can complement road-based deliveries," the proposal reads.  

Rwanda, left in ruins after genocide in 1994, has rapidly rebuilt with the government pushing initiatives to boost technology and the powerful ruler President Paul Kagame dreaming of turning the capital 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 rolling landscape of a nation dubbed the "land of a thousand hills" means physical access to some areas is more of a challenge.  

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 three-metre (10-foot) wingspan able to carry deliveries weighing 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds). Drones with a six-metre (19.5 foot) wingspan, capable of carrying payloads of 100 kilogrammes (220 pounds) are planned to follow by 2025.   - 'Bold, radical solutions' -   "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.  

"The dearth of terrestrial infrastructure has a direct impact on the ability to deliver life-giving supplies, indeed where something as basic as blood is not always available for timely treatment. We require immediate bold, radical solutions to address this issue," Foster said. Read More...


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