Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, April 23, 2016

21st Century Uplift in Rwanda

"The concept of drone ports is something that a very small decision-making unit in the country decided they were going to do."
"It took a very short time. It's something that America could learn from."
Michael Fairbanks, Rwanda presidential advisory council

Zipline drone
In 2014 Keller Rinaudo and William Hetzler had a visit with a young public health worker in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. They were impressed with that worker's vision and initiative for having created a text-messaging system capable of helping hospital workers to use it as an emergency communication to request medical supplies in life-or-death situations.

"The public health worker showed me the database that had entries every time someone texted, and it was thousands of names long. It was mostly infants, and there was no response", explained Mr. Rinaudo. And it was at that moment that he understood the reality of what he was observing. That database with its entries that had never received a response was in fact a long list of death sentences.

That realization acted as a powerful spur, sending Keller Rinaudo and his business partner William Hetzler to find a solution. They looked for an airborne alternative to enable the automation of a supply chain. Their meeting with Keenan Wyrobek, a roboticist trained at Standford University set them on track to assemble an engineering team with background in the aerospace industry.

The close collaboration with roboticists and aerospace engineers led to a rapid engineering feat where a highly automated system was developed to be operated by a staff of five to eight people. That ground-breaking automated system was in fact a drone service. And now one is to be based in a city close by the Rwandan capital of Kigali.

In a story of modern technology uplifting and aiding one of the world's poorest nations, putting it way ahead of wealthier more technologically advanced countries of the world, Rwanda is on schedule to be the first to establish a commercial network of drone deliveries. "Rwanda has a vision to become a technology hub for East Africa and ultimately the whole continent of Africa", explained Mr. Hetzler.

He, as it happens, along with Keller Rinaudo founded a new technology company named Zipline, in Half Moon Bay, California. They helped to design small fixed-wing drones designed to carry medical supplies to remote locations up to 65 kilometres distance from operational headquarters. And the government of Rwanda has signed onto their initiative.

The new system will be capable of 50 to 150 daily deliveries. Rwanda's 21 hospitals and clinics in the western half of the nation is set, from July of 2016 when the system will begin operation, to take advantage of this life-saving option that modern technology has pioneered. A fleet of 15 drones, each with twin electric motors, a 1.6 kilogram payload and a 1.5-meter wingspan describes the system's base.

Speed maintains a "cold chain" -- temperature-controlled supply chain required to convey blood and vaccines. The Zipline drones will make use of GPS to navigate, and communication will take place using the Rwandan cellular network. Rough weather flight with winds up to 50 kilometres per hour will be handled by the drones which will not land but instead drop small packages from low altitudes with the use of paper parachutes.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

()() Follow @rheytah Tweet