Foster + Partners unveils droneport prototype

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Architectural firm Foster + Partners has unveiled a full-scale prototype for its proposed droneport project at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition taking place in Venice, Italy.

The droneport project aims to create a network of drone airports across Africa to deliver medical supplies, packages and other necessities to areas that suffer from poor roads and infrastructure. The pilot project is set to launch later this year in Rwanda.

The initial plan, scheduled for completion by 2020, is to construct three buildings that will enable the network to send supplies to 44% of Rwanda. Subsequent phases of the project could see in excess of 40 droneports across the country, and its central location could allow easier expansion to neighboring countries such as Congo, saving thousands of lives.

The project is being funded by the Norman Foster Foundation and is the brainchild of writer and novelist Jonathan Ledgard, who created the concept of the Redline Cargo Drone Network while at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. The ambition is that every small town in Africa and in other emerging economies will have its own droneport by 2030.

Lord Foster, chairman and founder of Foster + Partners and chairman of the Norman Foster Foundation, 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 Droneport project is about doing ‘more with less’, capitalizing 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 testbed for the Droneport project. This project can have massive impact through the century and save lives immediately.”

Jonathan Ledgard, founder, Redline, said, “It is inevitable on a crowded planet, with limited resources, that we will make more intensive use of our sky using flying robots to move goods faster, cheaper, and more accurately than ever before. But it is not inevitable that these craft or their landing sites will be engineered to be tough and cheap enough to serve poorer communities who can make most use of them. Droneport is an attempt to make that happen, and to improve health and economic outcomes in Africa – and beyond. We are proud to have Norman Foster – an architect with extensive personal experience of flying – as the design lead on this project.”

June 1, 2016

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Helen has worked for UKi Media & Events for nearly a decade. She joined the company as assistant editor on Passenger Terminal World and since progressed to become editor of five publications, covering everything from aviation, logistics and e-commerce to meteorology. She has a love for travel and property and has redeveloped three houses in three years. When she’s not editing magazines, she’s running around after her two boys and their partner in crime, Pete the pug.

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