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Idea for Supply Chains of Flying Drones Takes Off


Health & Wellness  (tags: medicine, business, americans, Entrepreneurs, ethics, world, society, investing, humans, GoodNews, drugs, children, death, babies, disease, health, ethics, healthcare, medicine, prevention, safety, treatment, protection )

JL
- 650 days ago - scidev.net
A fleet of small flying drones could speed up the delivery of medicines and other supplies to remote areas, and even provide a cheaper alternative to a road network, according to Matternet, a start-up company in the United States.



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JL A. (275)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 9:10 am
[ALSO VIDEOS AT THE SITE}


Idea for supply chains of flying drones takes off

Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade

4 January 2013 | EN | ES
Tests of drones in Haiti

Field tests of the flying drones took place in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Matternet

[SAO PAULO] A fleet of small flying drones could speed up the delivery of medicines and other supplies to remote areas, and even provide a cheaper alternative to a road network, according to Matternet, a start-up company in the United States.

Just as the Internet has revolutionised the transport of online data, the company says a network of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) the 'matternet' could do the same for supplies.
SPEED READ

Unmanned aerial vehicles could be deployed in a low-cost delivery network
Tests have taken place in the Dominican Republic and Haiti
Developing ground infrastructure and securing airspace are challenges

The company envisages a network of base stations, ten kilometres apart, with flying drones carrying packages of up to two kilograms between bases. A drone would take just 15 minutes for each trip without needing to recharge or replace its batteries.

The projected cost for setting up a case study in Lesotho with 50 base stations and 150 drones is US$900,000. After that, each trip by a drone would cost just 24 US cents. This compares with about US$1 million for building a two-kilometre, one-lane road, according to the company.

Andreas Raptopoulos, one of Matternet's founders, says there are three key technologies electric flying vehicles, landing stations and routing software that make such a network technically feasible.

The company has already tested prototypes in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in August and September last year.

"We went out with three vehicles, testing [remotely] piloted and autonomous missions in urban and rural locations in both countries," Raptopoulos tells SciDev.Net. The trials included discussions with local aviation authorities and government officials, he adds.

"The trials were successful. We logged several missions and found strong applications for the technology." The potential applications are courier transport in the Dominican Republic and delivery of diagnostic samples in Haiti.But Raptopoulos says there is much more development needed.

"We have to improve [the system's] autonomous navigation, battery exchange and ensure it is safe. It will take us 12 to 18 months to address these adequately before we can consider commercial or humanitarian deployments," he says.

Another company working on UAVs, and taking an open source approach, is Aria Logistics (Autonomous Roadless Intelligent Array).

"We are continuing the development of a fully autonomous system that does not involve human operators at all," Arturo Pelayo, Aria's co-founder, tells SciDev.Net. Pelayo was part of the same artificial intelligence project at Singularity University in Silicon Valley, United Sates, out of which Matternet emerged.

"We are already securing air space in many countries to enable developers to test autonomous open-source systems of their own," he adds.

But the projects do depend on infrastructure a network of bases for the UAVs to land and relay packages which will need funds to set up.

Eduardo Cabral, at the unmanned vehicle laboratory, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, says the idea is good, but one challenge is ensuring safety where drones share airspace with other aircraft.

He adds that the costs of further research and development to ensure safety and autonomy may be higher than anticipated by Matternet.
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 5:41 pm

I love this - a positive use for the machines of death. It's my understanding that drones can fly much lower than other air craft. I guess I will have to look that up and find out.
 

JL A. (275)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 5:44 pm
Me, too, Kit. I've got the impression there are some design differences with the different purposes drones have been used for--and the US used as far back as 1973 in Vietnam. You cannot currently send a star to Kit because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 5:49 pm

I haven't found the answer yet, but this article fits well with the one you have submitted:

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21567053-autonomous-civil-aircraft-could-be-flying-cars-go-driverless-your
 

JL A. (275)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 5:58 pm
Kit, it appears that the different drones fly at different altitudes:
http://www.caissa.com/ext/bulletin/ms/tlaa0000/fms1188531842022817000001-How-They-Remote-Control-Fly-%22Drones%22-%7B%22Slate%22%7D
 

John B. (173)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 7:17 pm
Thanks J.L. for the post, the link to the two videos and to you and Kit for the additional sites for further info. Like you Kit I am very happy to see these drones being used for something other than delivering death. Read, viewed and noted.
Green star coming your way Kit.
You cannot currently send a star to J.L. because you have done so within the last week.
 

Kit B. (276)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 7:19 pm

Did you read the other one? About using drones for commercial aircraft both for people and cargo? The future is here and we didn't even know it.
 

JL A. (275)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 7:32 pm
You are welcome John. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.
I sure did Kit--and it made me think of the unmanned car tests that happened in CA early last year (words about which would be first). Both make me nervous about what will be approved "error rates" and will the data be doctored like some regulatory reporting data (e.g., oil in the Gulf of Mexico) or research data/results (e.g., the vaccine-autism connection)?
 

Michael Carney (211)
Saturday January 12, 2013, 8:46 pm
Noted...Read, and thanks Kit...
 

Tanya W. (53)
Monday January 14, 2013, 2:32 am
Noted and I agree that drones would be beneficial to transporting much needed supplies to those who desperately require assitance.
 

Giana Peranio-Paz (385)
Monday January 14, 2013, 2:55 am
Sounds good.
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (276)
Monday January 14, 2013, 2:59 am
great to used for good
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (276)
Monday January 14, 2013, 3:00 am
Great to be used for something good
 

Gloria picchetti (297)
Monday January 14, 2013, 3:30 am
Excellent use of technology!
 

cecily w. (0)
Monday January 14, 2013, 3:40 am
Fascinating! Thank you, J.L. A
 

joab k. (127)
Monday January 14, 2013, 5:06 am
not much of a savings over the road and actually negative considering the long terrm benefits of a road, emergency vehicles, and the like, of course both have their militaristic uses as well
 

Mike M. (55)
Monday January 14, 2013, 5:50 am
It is a good idea especially for emergencies
 

paul m. (93)
Monday January 14, 2013, 6:28 am

Noted...
 

JL A. (275)
Monday January 14, 2013, 9:05 am
You cannot currently send a star to Giana because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to cecily because you have done so within the last week.
This technology can be used for the areas with the lowest populations which presumably would be last in the order of priority for expenditures for roads for any purpose, including military.
 

Deborah W. (6)
Monday January 14, 2013, 1:40 pm
Isn't it true that drones can be redirected by rogue elements to suit their own purposes, other than the original intent?
 

Lois Jordan (56)
Monday January 14, 2013, 1:55 pm
Noted. Drones were used as surveillance before they were "militarized with weapons." They certainly can have a peaceful purpose. On the matter of using them for commercial flights...no, thanks! I want a fully capable human being in the cockpit of anything I fly on.
 

JL A. (275)
Monday January 14, 2013, 2:20 pm
Deborah, why don't you do the research and provide us all with the link to a credible scientific source? This question is written with evident inherent bias (i.e., not in a neutral voice like a reputable researcher is required to use) so it sounds as if you have decided for yourself and so we would welcome being able to review the information, assessing source credibility, expertise and possible bias, to make our own decisions based on factual information.

Excellent points Lois! I appreciate your providing us with factual information that is generally known for those new to this issue.
 

Natalie V. (27)
Monday January 14, 2013, 3:39 pm
noted
 
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