In rural parts of the world, building a reliable road infrastructure seems nigh on impossible. Andreas Raptopoulos has another idea: vast networks of
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Africa, cities/transport, innovation - Q&A
"You think that drones could help get vital supplies to the one billion people without reliable access to roads?
That's correct. The key concept for us is a network of small drones. Alone, each of those vehicles could cover only a small segment of the transportation network, but together they can have a big spread.
Why not build roads?
Following the lead of road systems in the West is a nearly impossible task for the African continent. You're talking about a massive infrastructure investment and a huge ecological footprint. If you were to deliberately plan out an approach to transportation and logistics in Africa, would you do it in the same way? I'm convinced that the answer is no. Instead, I think you would use a few different modes of transportation – and one would be an aerial method like the drone network we're proposing."
Cellphones have transformed life for many in Africa. Do you think the same could happen with drones?
Yes. It's a radical idea, but we believe that drones could do for transportation what mobiles did for communications. Fifteen years ago, if you had said that mobile telephones would give access to these extremely poor communities and enable their economic growth, nobody would have believed it. We believe it's the same for transportation.