Airports for drones!

Due to a lack of modern transportation infrastructure and logistics, delivery of urgently needed supplies, such as medicine and tools, to off-grid communities and persistent humanitarian crises will often be slow, expensive, and poorly tracked. Imagine a small scale airport that allows landing of drones in such areas. This could tremendously expedite transportation of necessities. The droneport project is trying to provide such solution to address these issues. It is an initiative by Jonathan Ledgard, founder of the Pioneering Redline Cargo Drone Network, in collaboration with the Norman Foster Foundation.

Although droneport could be an essential infrastructure wherever there is no reliable road access, in developed areas, it could be an alternative to current transportation network. Drones can transcend geographical barriers such as mountains, lakes, and unnavigable rivers without the need for large-scale physical infrastructure. The droneport is also a beautiful infrastructure. Take a look at these photos.

Here are some additional pieces of information from the droneport project press release that are interesting:

The pilot project – which will be launched this year – is based in Rwanda, a country whose physical and social geography poses multiple challenges. The initial plan for three buildings, to be completed by 2020, will enable the network to send supplies to 44 per cent of Rwanda. Subsequent phases of the project could see in excess of 40 droneports across Rwanda, and the country’s central location could allow easier expansion to neighbouring countries such as Congo, saving many thousands more lives.

Cargo drone routes have utility wherever there is a lack of roads. Just as mobile phones dispensed with landlines, cargo drones can transcend geographical barriers such as mountains, lakes, and unnavigable rivers without the need for large-scale physical infrastructure.

The Norman Foster Foundation has collaborated with the Studio Olafur Eliasson and Little Sun to explore the potential of a new building component called ‘SolarBrick’, which could be incorporated into the structure of the droneport vaults. The ‘SolarBrick’ will have solar cells on its outer surface, charging a long-life battery and then powering a LED lamp on the inner surface. The units, which could be 3D printed within the droneports themselves, could become common place in local buildings, providing light where electricity is scarce.

The Droneport offers a new typology for a building, which it is hoped, will grow into a ubiquitous presence, much like petrol stations have become dispersed infrastructure for road traffic. The proposal will have a strong civic presence, based on sharing and multiple uses. It allows for safe landing of quiet drones in a densely packed area, and includes a health clinic, a digital fabrication shop, a post and courier room, and an e-commerce trading hub, allowing it to become part of local community life.

Photo credits: Nigel Young / The Norman Foster Foundation

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