In Phase 1, starting in 2016, drones will serve hospitals and humanitarian emergencies. Other early adopters will deliver small payloads to government offices, mines, oil and gas installations, ranches and conservancies. In Phase 2, industrial sweetspots such as the spare parts industry in southeast Nigeria will be connected to cities by [drone] donkey routes—just as the Liverpool and Manchester railway connected the first city of the industrial age with the Atlantic. Companies of building and mining equipment will stock their large inventory of spare parts using [flying] donkeys carrying 10 kilo payloads.
Phase 1 and 2 would be enough to make donkeys useful contributors. But the real reason for the technology is Phase 3, when donkeys will better connect businesses with customers across Africa.
This future will be radical. And yes, cargo drones will be useful in wealthy countries with dispersed populations. But the biggest opportunity is in Africa. Many people are going to save a lot of lives and make a lot of money putting the donkey there first.
Read more by J.M. Ledgard on WIRED.
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