Delivering good is always a challenge, and it’s a particularly hard challenge in a mountainous country like Rwanda. An ambitious company known as Zipline noticed that drones could solve this geographic challenge by just going over the terrain. And if it works, they should deliver one of the most time sensitive cargo that exists: blood. Now when a rural health clinic needs new blood they call Zipline who dispatch a drone.
Their system is efficient, safe, and is a good model for other countries with similar logistic challenges.
“It’s so good. And it’s not just good for Rwanda,” says Timothy Amukele, a pathologist who is not involved with the research team or Zipline, but who previously ran a medical drone group with projects in Namibia and Uganda. (Amukele is currently the global medical director for ICON Laboratory Services, which helps run clinical trials.) Drone applications for global medicine have been touted for years, but researchers have lacked concrete data to back up that promise, says Amukule: “This is more than just guys playing with toys.”
“Drones are not easy,” he continues. “To actually make this a success, where they’re getting blood and packing it safely and releasing the drones and monitoring the flight and bringing them back—and for five years covering 80 percent of that country—it’s just really impressive.”
In order for train travel to be safe the rails the trains ride on need to be of a certain quality. You don’t want the equivalent of a pot hole on rails. In order to maintain good tracks workers need to shut down the rail line and physically go out to the rails. This delays trains, and therefore travelers. Nordic Unmanned, a Norwegian company, has created the BG-300 drone which is designed to monitor rail quality without having to alter train schedules.
As it does so, it inspects the tracks utilizing cameras and “other sensors,” plus it can lubricate rail switches if required. Importantly, though, if it encounters any other rail traffic, it will autonomously fly up off the tracks in order to get out of the way until that traffic passes. It can also use this functionality to move from one track to another.
As a result, stretches of rail lines do not have to be closed to trains while inspections are being performed. Such is not the case with traditionally used inspection vehicles, such as trolleys or rail-wheel-equipped trucks.
When drones are brought up in the news it’s usually because they are used to kill, here’s a story about drones bringing life. A company, BioCarbon Engineering, has demonstrated how to se drones to plant forests more efficiently than other methods.
It’s a rather simple process with incredibly complex software: send one drone to survey the planting site then send a second drone towrope seeds. The seeds will only be dropped in areas marked with good growth potential. Of course, this approach is a reaction to deforestation, it would be even more efficient to stop deforestation before it happens. Still, faster regrowth is better than slow to no regrowth of forests.
Here’s a video of the drones in operation:
The drones, from the startup BioCarbon Engineering, can plant as many as 100,000 trees in a single day, leaving the local community to focus on taking care of the young trees that have already started to grow. In September, the company will begin a drone-planting program in the area along with Worldview International Foundation, the nonprofit guiding local tree-planting projects. To date, the organization has worked with villagers to plant an area of 750 hectares, about twice the size of Central Park; the drones will help cover another 250 hectares with 1Â million additional trees. Ultimately, the nonprofit hopes to use drones to help plant 1Â billion trees in an even larger area.
In Guyana there are a lot of illegal mining and logging operations that the government doesn’t pursue due to a lack of evidence. To protect their lands from such activity a small tribe, the Wapichan community, have built a drone to record the damage being done. They used videos on YouTube to find out how to build the drone and designed their drone to be repairable using locally found products (like discarded plastics). It’s a good story about how access to technology and knowledge by small groups can have a big impact!
â€œWith the drones, we can go into really inaccessible areas,â€ Fredericks told Quartz. Using its footage, the Wapichan are assembling a â€œliving mapâ€ to document their customary land useâ€”and to demonstrate to the government how outside interests were impinging upon lands the Wapichan have safeguarded for centuries.
Their drone confirmed what the Wapichan had long suspected: In the south, close to the border with Brazil, illegal loggers were harvesting trees in lands that were supposed to be protected. And the gold mine at Marudi Mountain, to the southeast of Shulinab, appeared to be leaching pollution into the headwaters upon which the Wapichan depend.
Remote controlled drones are pretty neat! Sure, the military industrial complex uses them to murder people, but that’s just one way to use the technology. Artists and companies are finding ways to use the technology in nice friendly ways. In Toronto (like other jurisdictions) there are growing concerns about regulations and applications about the drones. Fortunately, the conversation between drone operators and the general public is going well!
Interestingly enough, Toronto Reference Library leads the way in its adoption and popularization of new technologies, drones included. (Take a look at this awesomeÂ drone’s eye view of the library tour!) Just a couple of weeks ago, 10,000 people gathered at Toronto Reference Library for Toronto Mini Maker Faire, whereÂ X4 DronesÂ flew some smaller aircrafts from its impressive drones fleet. Itâ€™s hard to think of a better way to normalize drones than seeing them fly right in the library, one of the most well-known and accessible public spaces in the city.