Lord Foster, British architect, who has taken up the challenge of building the world’s smallest airport, in Rwanda. The goal is to transport urgent medical supplies and electronic parts to remote parts of the East African country via unmanned flying vehicles or drones. Cargo drone routes have value wherever roads are limited, the architect said. The architecture firm Foster + Partners are working with Lausanne-based university École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and its associated initiative Afrotech on the project, which includes three separate droneports and is expected to be built within four years. The droneports will be designed as a row of vaulted brick structures and will host a health clinic, a digital fabrication shop to make spare drone parts, a post and courier room, and an e-commerce trading hub. Each droneport will operate two parallel networks of drones, which are being designed by engineers at Afrotech/EPFL and Imperial College London. The Redline drones will have a wingspan of 3m and can deliver medical and emergency supplies weighing up to 10 kilograms, such as 20 adult blood transfusions or vaccines and drugs. The commercial Blueline drones can deliver heavier equipment, electronics and e-commerce items weighing up to 100 kilograms. There are plans to expand the scheme across Rwanda and into neighbouring countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Image source: fosterandpartners.com