Drone Port: Architectural Innovation for Future Transport

drone delivery parcels around the world

Africa, the large and ancient continent, consists mostly of mountain ranges and highlands with arid desert climate in the North and South while tropical rain forests dominate the central part.  Such terrain and climate pose a hindrance to human settlements.  Thus, the majority of African population remain the natives, which explains why technical, economic, social and modern technological development there has been minimal and slow, causing the continent to lag far behind the others.  The above mentioned not with standing, Africa is in fact endowed with rich natural resources, oil, diamond, gold, fauna as well as tropical crops, all attractive to Europeans who are beginning to take greater interest in the continent.  A further factor contributing to this lies in the fact that Africa lies in the middle of the route connecting Asia and Europe on the one hand and Europe and Australia on the other. Besides, it is larger than Europe in terms of population, which places it among the significant world markets.

Be that as it may, statistics show that more than 450,000 Africans die of malaria and more than 100,000 of anemia every year.  In both cases, patients lose their lives due to inaccessibility to blood transfusion facilities given the continent’s highlands and mountain ranges logistically hindering transport of medical supplies as well as various resources, geographical survey and/or technological application.  The situation led to the emergence of the droneport project in Africa initiated by Foster + Partners in collaboration with Afrotech’s and EPFL’s Redline partners with the aim to save all precious lives in Africa.Be that as it may, statistics show that more than 450,000 Africans die of malaria and more than 100,000 of anemia every year.  In both cases, patients lose their lives due to inaccessibility to blood transfusion facilities given the continent’s highlands and mountain ranges logistically hindering transport of medical supplies as well as various resources, geographical survey and/or technological application.  The situation led to the emergence of the droneport project in Africa initiated by Foster + Partners in collaboration with Afrotech’s and EPFL’s Redline partners with the aim to save all precious lives in Africa.

The droneport functions like a future logistics station that facilitates the transport of items, medical supplies and foodstuffs in remote areas inaccessible by road, bridge or tunnel – transport that is obstructed by mountains, lakes, meandering rivers and many others – where road construction would mean an enormous amount of investment.  Such a station will thus have to rely mainly on a type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) known as drone in its various operations.  In this way, each drone will be designed for different missions, e.g. to transport blood to a destination 100 km away at low transportation costs.  The station is to operate two lines, i.e. the red line which involves small-sized drones for the carriage of urgent medicines and medical supplies andthe blue line which entails the transport of large items such as spare parts, electronic equipment and the like.  In addition, the port is not only to be surrounded by shops (just like a filling station) ranging from a public health center, digital inventions, postal service center to e-commerce shops but also a place where drones, the key transporting vehicle, are manufactured.  Another key utility of the drone port has to do with local community promotion and development through skill training which can lead to employment as well as medical treatment to be timely and broadly provided to people in different areas, which means effective and timely saving of lives and is an inherent part of the local community.

The droneport which is regarded as avant-garde architecture and state-of-the-art technology which integrates war and medical treatment will be first constructed in 2016in Rwanda, a country with serious geographical and social challenges.  Expected to be completed in 2020, the port is designed to have the capacity to transport various resources to areas covering 40% of the country.  According to the project plan, there will be as many as 40 drone ports in Rwanda to accommodate drones with three-meter wingspans able to carry a load of up to 10 kg, and those with six-meter wingspans able to carry a load of 100 kg to be eventually built in the future. 

The project has caught the attention of and greatly excited logisticians as well as futurologists in many countries.  If successful, we are bound to see extended innovations stemming from it that would seriously impact the consumer industry in the way that has happened to Amazon after the launch of drone to provide its 24-hour delivery service.  At any rate, this is certainly a big step forward as far as a supply chain revolution in various industries is concerned.

Compiled by BLOG.SCGLogistics

References and photo credits forbes.com, fosterandpartners.com

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