Drone-Based Logistics for Remote Regions
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the number of pilot projects, prototypes and functioning projects is rapidly increasing.
- Let’s take the example of Zip Line in Rwanda: In this example, drones are being used to organise the delivery of medicaments in rural areas in a robust and reliable manner. The zip line drones are launched from a regional pharmaceutical warehouse and fly at high speed to hospitals and medical stations in remote areas where they reduce altitude and drop their loads using drogues to slow their descent, before returning to the base location to be prepared for the next delivery. Doctors can place orders by SMS. The zip line drones currently make a total of 150 flights per day to 21 health centres throughout the country.
- With a view to providing essential services in crisis situations following natural disasters, the “Pouncer” development project is exploring the concept of using single-use drones. Today, aid supplies to inaccessible regions are often dropped from a great height, resulting in high scatter losses. By contrast, the Pouncer drone, which is currently still in the development phase, is designed to deliver aid resources to crisis areas with a high degree of precision. The drone is optimised for food deliveries and will be capable of transporting up to 100 kg over a distance of 30 km. The cladding material can then be stripped from the drone and used for the construction of makeshift shelters, whilst the wooden fuselage can be burnt as fuel.
- A research project by the US military goes a step further by attempting to develop single-use drones made of paper and cardboard, which wouldn’t even have their own propulsion units. These drones, which are being developed as part of Project ICARUS (“Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems”) will be launched from the air and will steer a highly precise course towards a pre-programmed destination. To further reduce their environmental impact, naturally degradable fungus-based materials for the construction of the drones are being studied.
In the future, drones will be available in all shapes and sizes, for deployment in everything from crisis zones to logistics. Fine-tuned to specific purposes and locations, the drones of tomorrow will cope better with or even solve many of today’s logistics challenges in inaccessible regions.