Aria has a grand idea: creating an Internet-like network of autonomous aerial vehicles (AAVs) that could one day allow someone to make a one-to-one sale with anyone in the world or send medication quickly to where it’s needed most, simply by delivering goods on a flying autonomous vehicle to its destination. But before Aria (that’s the name of Matternet’s open-source group) does that, it’s teaming up with ReAllocate--an organization that’s building a network of designers and engineers who want to use their expertise to work on humanitarian issues--for an experimental project at Burning Man (if Aria can secure tickets; that’s still up in the air).
After the Burning Man pilot, ReAllocate plans to bring the shipping container project, dubbed "Startup Country," to Oakland to create a portable kitchen for food entrepreneurs. "We’re transforming shipping containers into innovation centers," says Dr. Mike North, the founder of ReAllocate. "We want to take them into the developing world, bring people from the community in, and facilitate them developing their own social enterprises."
As with the Burning Man project, Aria can use these shipping containers in the developing world as ground stations where it can swap batteries and payload. "The ground stations are like the routers of the Internet. They can extend range and capacity of the drones," explains Arturo Pelayo, the co-founder of Aria.