British architect Lord Foster has revealed plans to launch the world's first Droneport project in Rwanda, Africa, to transport urgent supplies including medical aides and electronic equipments to remote areas in large scales.
Architecture firm Foster + Partner is collaborating with technology company Afrotech and Lausanne-based University École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) on the project.
The specialist drones are expected to carry blood and other life saving supplies through cargo drone routes, covering over 100km at minimal costs.
Services will be carried out using two parallel networks, of which the Redline will use smaller drones for medical and emergency supplies; and the commercial Blueline for transporting crucial larger payloads such as spare parts, electronics, and e-commerce.
Foster + Partners chairman and founder Lord Norman Foster said: "Africa is a continent where the gap between the population and infrastructural growth is increasing exponentially. 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. "
The project will initially deploy 3m wingspan drones, with the capacity of carrying a payload of 10kg. It is expected that by 2025, there will be drones with a 6m wingspan, capable of carrying payloads of 100kg.
The first phase that includes the construction of three building is expected to be completed by 2020.
Once operational, it will enable the network to send supplies to 44% of Rwanda.
Subsequent phases of the project will include as many as 40 Droneports across Rwanda, and the country's central location enabling easier expansion to neighbouring countries such as Congo, saving many thousands more lives.
"The Droneport project is about doing 'more with less', capitalising on the recent advancements in drone technology - something that is usually associated with war and hostilities - to make an immediate life-saving impact in Africa. Rwanda's challenging geographical and social landscape makes it an ideal test-bed for the Droneport project. This project can have massive impact through the century and save lives immediately," Foster added.
Image: First Droneports to be constructed in Rwanda, Africa. Photo: courtesy of Foster + Partners.