Remote Delivery For Top of the Sacred Mountain

Remote Delivery For Top of the Sacred Mountain


Currently remote delivery is done using land transportation where it takes lots of time because of the long distance and the difficulty to travel by road. With the development of the current technology, this can be overcome by using intelligent transportation technologies.Here is a scenario in the beautiful island of Sri Lanka where such technology can be implemented effectively.

Located  in a beautiful area of the southern Hill Country, Adam’s Peak mountain  is 7,360 ft in height. It’s variously known as Adam’s Peak (the place  where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), Sri  Pada (Sacred Footprint, left by the Buddha as he headed towards  paradise), or perhaps most poetically as Samanalakande (Butterfly  Mountain; where butterflies go to die). Legends attribute the huge  ‘footprint’ crowning the peak to St Thomas, the early apostle of India, or even Lord Shiva.

Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka

So many pilgrimages climb this sacred  mountain during the season of climbing. The pilgrimage season begins on Poya day in December and runs until the Vesak festival in May.

Crowded pilgrimage season, photo by Lakshantha

I climbed this mountain myself a few months ago and it took me like 10 hours to climb to the top because there were so many pilgrimages climbing the mountain and the stairs were all packed.

Packed stairs for climbing up the mountain, photo by Lakshantha

The situation is like that all the time. Many monks and pilgrimages reside on top of this sacred mountain and worship. So the daily necessities for the people residing on top are brought from the feet of the mountain all the way to the top and it takes almost 10 hours to bring all that stuff up climbing all the stairs with the crowd. Sometimes in emergency situations where immediate medical suppliers are needed, it becomes a major issue due to the long transportation time from the foot of the mountain.

Drones can be used in this scenario where it will take very less time to transport food, daily needs , and the required medical suppliers when they are out of stock to the top of the mountain and it will be a great act of help to the monks and the pilgrimages who are residing on top of the mountain to receive their necessities on time.


Article by Lakshantha Dissanayake

Lakshantha is a student from Beihang University (Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) majoring in electronics and information engineering. He is from Colombo, Sri Lanka. He is an associate of Last 100 Miles and writes technical and developmental stories.

Extreme Weather Conditions Calls For New Technology

Extreme Weather Conditions Calls For New Technology
As early as I can remember, seasonal rainfall has caused havoc for our hill and valley country on the crown of Lake Victoria; so much so that it was no longer a surprise to see crowds hauled up under shelters as business took a pause in the downpour or catch a stray shoe floating around in the muddy water. We even started to joke about its benefits with washed up piles of garbage overdue that were finally disposed – funny, unless you lived in the valleys.


Caught in terrential rains and floods in Kampala – Photo by Joanita Kente Tushabe

For residents in Uganda, we are aware that this is only a part of the much bigger problem but nowhere is this felt more than in the country’s rural areas. Poor road foundations and poorer drainage systems have made communities there an easy target every rainy season that appears and washes away boundaries, swallowing up the much needed road networks that facilitate the livelihoods of many.


Battered roads make it impossible for mid-size trucks heaped with banana plantain from rural areas to markets; effectively farmers and communities there cannot earn a living. If that wasn’t bad enough, the delivery of basic goods, bread, boxes of matches, and paraffin to these regions is slow and not always successful. As road network authorities haggle through bureaucratic systems to construct better roads, other parties are looking to how technology can address these issues.


Enter drones. The operation of unmanned aircrafts for emergency deliveries of blood, vaccines and medical supplies which has been running in Rwanda since 2016 and is soon to be underway in Tanzania, shows how new technologies are addressing poor delivery conditions in these countries. Zipline, the company operating the services says 25% of their deliveries are for emergencies, with the majority of their drop-offs supplementing the supply chain of medical goods around the country.


Imagine then the benefits that lay wait with expanding the use of drone technologies across sectors and in countries that require it the most. Due to a lack of proper transport facilities, a weak health and education service, economic growth in rural areas has been stunted. Diversifying the means by which drones can improve these conditions will amplify opportunities for people living in these areas.


The problem at present is that the capacity of drones in operation can only handle a fraction of the deliveries made by trucks. Is this any reason not to start utilizing the technology? A key to revolutionizing drone usage therefore lies in harnessing their capabilities in real life context.


In Rwanda the operation of the drones has enabled engineers on the Zipline team to improve the aerodynamics and battery design of the drone fleet in order for them to fly longer distances, faster while carrying heavier loads. Operating on ground has also allowed the company to develop innovative and efficient strategies that save time and energy.


The only way technologies can be utilized to develop rural access is if they are introduced into the systems and their uses are expanded for a wide number of resources. Companies like Amazon and Google are some of the heavy weights with stakes in creating a more resilient drone that can support their cargo businesses.


However these developments will not be felt for regions in developing countries where it is crucial to create alternative forms of delivery; much else to shape these developments for contexts that are dealing with exceptional conditions, for example being elevated high above sea-level or suffering from extreme weather conditions.


Recent mudslides in Sierra Leone – photo by Associated Press


The recent mudslides in Sierra Leone and heavy downpour of rain in South Asia and the United States shows not only the fact that extreme weather conditions are global but that their effects are worse in countries with poor infrastructures. The opportunity for testing out drones provides hope that new technology can be effective in both emergency and developmental situations. For rural areas its worth every shot. 



Article by Joanita Kente Tushabe

Joanita is a writer/journalist based in Kampala, Uganda. She recently graduated from Tsinghua University in China with a masters degree in business journalism. She covers developmental stories in African continent for Last 100 Miles .

Africa Leads the World on Drone Delivery: Flights to Begin in Tanzania in 2018

Africa Leads the World on Drone Delivery: Flights to Begin in Tanzania in 2018

Drone delivery is finally getting off the ground. And the action is happening in East Africa.

Zipline, a pioneering drone startup that began delivering blood packs to Rwanda’s remote hospitals in October 2016, today announced a major expansion into Tanzania. In early 2018 the company will begin flying its delivery drones to more than 1000 health care facilities around Tanzania, bringing urgently needed medicines and supplies to big hospitals and tiny rural clinics alike.

Keller Rinaudo, founder and CEO of Zipline, says that “the richest companies in the world” are still trying to figure out how to make instant drone delivery work as a commercial service (as IEEE Spectrum has noted in it’s coverage of Google’s Project Wing and Amazon’s Prime Air). Meanwhile, the world’s first on-demand delivery service is already up and running in Rwanda.

“People expect that advanced robotics and AI are going to start in the United States and be built by rich white people,” Rinaudo says bluntly. Zipline’s East Africa projects defy that expectation, he says, and create a model of tech deployment that the United States and other nations can follow. “Rwanda and Tanzania are showing the world how to use robotic technology to save lives,” he says.

In Tanzania, the company is establishing four distribution centers with up to 30 fixed-wing drones each. Each distribution center will handle up to 500 delivery flights per day. The Tanzanian operation will expand on Zipline’s prior offering by delivering not only blood packs, but also vaccines, HIV medications, anti-malaria drugs, and critical medical supplies like sutures and IV tubes.

To place an order, a health care worker simply sends a text via the popular messaging service WhatsApp. Zipline’s local operators load a drone at the distribution center and launch it into the air, whereupon it autonomously navigates the route to its destination and typically arrives within 30 minutes. To save on battery life and prevent wear-and-tear, the drone doesn’t land; instead it drops its cargo by parachute and then heads back to the distribution center.

Rinaudo says his engineering team has recently made improvements to the drone fleet, working on aerodynamics and battery design to make drones that can fly farther, faster, and with heavier payloads. Another upgrade has to do with maintaining the drones in Africa’s harsh conditions: “We want to be able to swap parts of the vehicle very quickly, almost like Legos, so technicians can very quickly get it back online,” he says.

But Rinaudo says the biggest lesson his team learned in its early Rwanda operations is that “the technology is the easy part.” He ticks off the hard parts of operating an automated, drone-delivery system at national scale: making sure all regulatory issues are resolved; finding and training a local team to operate the distribution centers; spreading word to doctors and health care workers about the service; and communicating with people in towns and villages who see the drones whizzing overhead. “We want them to understand how this technology benefits them,” Rinaudo says.

When describing Zipline’s benefits, Rinaudo employs some convincing statistics and stories. In Rwanda, Zipline has flown 1,400 delivery flights since service began in October 2016. About 25 percent of those flights were emergency deliveries, where doctors didn’t have the blood product they needed for an ailing patient.

Rinaudo describes one case from Rwanda, in which a 24-year-old woman gave birth via C-section at a hospital. There were complications after the birth and the woman began to hemorrhage, so the doctors immediately gave her two packs of blood that matched her blood type. “But she bled out in 10 minutes,” Rinaudo says. “She was in real danger, and likely to lose her life.”

The doctors didn’t have any more packs of her blood type, so they placed an emergency order with Zipline. A procession of drones ended up delivering seven units of red blood cells, two units of plasma, and two units of platelets. “All of that was transfused into this woman—that’s more blood than you have in your body normally—and they stabilized her,” Rinaudo says. The team didn’t just save the woman’s life, he says, they also ensured that her child would have a mother. Not a bad day’s work for a couple of drones.


Original Source: IEEE (http://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/robotics/drones/africa-leads-the-world-on-drone-delivery.amp.html)

Long-distance Drones Are Doing Transpacific Shipment

Long-distance Drones Are Doing Transpacific Shipment

Whenever a news headline includes the words “drones” and “shipping,” most people assume it’s another article about Amazon or UPS. However, a California startup is setting its aerial sights on a larger market played out on a global scale.

Bay-area based Natilus (http://www.natilus.co/) is developing a 30-foot long, fixed-wing drone set to test launch later this summer according to NBC News MACH – an unmanned aircraft that could potentially ship thousands of pounds of cargo across oceans. The report adds:

“If all goes as planned, the firm will develop an 80-foot drone that will begin flying routes from Los Angeles to Hawaii in 2019. A 140-foot drone with a 200,000-pound cargo capacity could be flying routes to China starting in 2020.”

The drone will not resemble the smaller quadcopters and hybrids favored by UPS and Amazon but will instead boast a carbon-fiber wingspan and fuselage as well as jet engines to make marathon trans-oceanic flights. Company officials say the drone will be able to cruise up to 20,000 feet and could shave about half the cost off a manned aircraft, transpacific flight.

Reporter David Freeman explains

“Shipping 200,000 pounds of freight from Los Angles to Shanghai via drone, for example, would take about 30 hours at a cost of about $130,000, the company says. Delivery of the same cargo by a Boeing 747 takes about 11 hours and costs about $260,000.”

“Commercial pilot airplanes don’t want to fly slower because it would take forever to get there and pilot fatigue becomes an issue,” Natilus CEO Aleksey Matyushev told NBC. “For drones, that is not the case.”

Natilus’ lofty plans have drawn attention from the startup community – the company recently raised $750,000 from VC Tim Draper. Shipping companies are also taking notice. Chris Connell, president of global shipper CFI, told Fast Company in a recent report:

“Air cargo is all about speed at high price. Ocean freight is longer transit times at lower pricing. And with certain goods—be it perishables, or goods that are looking for that middle ground—that idea of middle price for middle transit times is that sweet spot.”

Although Natilus may not yet draw the fervent attention or financial firepower of an Amazon, the startup is set to revolutionize the way the world ships tons of goods across the ocean at a lower cost and more robust safety factor.

“Airplanes aren’t going to slow down,” Connell said. “And boats aren’t going to go faster. The drone concept adds something new. It adds to the intrigue.

Original Source: dronelife.com and PwC

UAV Challenge Launched 2 New Global Competitions For Drone Delivery Innovators

UAV Challenge Launched 2 New Global Competitions For Drone Delivery Innovators

About UAV Challenge

UAV Challenge is technical organization from Australia. Their goal is to demonstrate the utility of Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs) for civilian applications. They run challenges and contents, and invite university students and high-school students around the world to develop novel and cost-effective solutions.

The UAV Challenge Outback Rescue was an unmanned aircraft search and rescue competition that ran from 2007 to 2014. It saw teams from around the world compete to save lost bushwalker Outback Joe using unmanned aircraft and deliver him a life saving water bottle with a prize of $50,000.

The last UAV Challenge events were held in September 2016, in Calvert and Dalby, Queensland, Australia and was organized  jointly by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and CSIRO.

UAV Challenge Organizers
Current Open Competitions
  • The UAV Challenge Medical Express – an unmanned aircraft competition that demonstrates the use of robotic aircraft for medical sample retrieval and medical delivery, and open to adult teams from around the world. This competition is focussing on autonomy of unmanned aircraft.
  • UAV Challenge Airborne Delivery – an unmanned aircraft competition for high-school students from around the world that demonstrates the use of radio-controlled aircraft with novel delivery mechanisms to deliver medical payloads. 27 teams from 9 countries registered for the 2017 Airborne Delivery Challenge. The teams come from nine different countries including Australia, China, Turkey, Poland, Greece, Denmark, USA, India and Malaysia. The teams will be submitting their technical reports and videos to the organizer to advance in the challenge. Only 20 teams will be selected to take part in the competition in Queensland, Australia in September.