Student-Built Drone Delivers Food, Aid to Roadless Rural Areas

Quadcopter could distribute life's essentials to one billion people worldwide.
The Matternet, a remote-controlled quadcopter, could deliver food and medical supplies to remote villages.
Aug 30, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Not all dogs to go heaven, not all Republicans hate the environment, and not all drones are remote-controlled by guys in Langley, Virginia, smoking out Al Qaeda do-badders hiding in the caves of Afghanistan.

Some drones, like the Matternet, deliver medical supplies to people living in rural areas of developing nations where roads either don’t exist or have become impassible during rainy seasons.

The idea was born at Silicon Valley’s Singular University after professors challenged students to solve a big problem related to world poverty, reports Fast Company.

“We want to shift the paradigm and say, do you really need roads?” said Matternet team member Arturo Pelayo.

The concept will be field-tested in three stages. The first will carry a two-kilogram payload. Phase two will add automated recharging stations and test a load of 200 kilograms. Phase three will attempt to transport 1,000 kilograms. The prototype’s current range is 10 kilometers.

Popsci explains the business model:

The company will deploy the initial hardware, maintenance and services, and set up a basic infrastructure network, which would involve UAV charging stations and some type of communication system. Then an aid group would pay to use the UAVs for delivery of drugs or other materials.

The company says a complete kit should sell for around $2,500.

In a perfect world, where all the inevitable kinks in the drone’s delivery system were hammered out, it could possibly be used by aid organizations to avoid racketeers who steal grain sacks and other supplies intended for famine victims, as was recently the case in Somalia.

Thanks to CNET.