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The Future of Non-Military Drones (UAVs) in Africa. Kihara Kimachia Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones have been involved in the theatre of war for the last few years. The Obama administration, in particular, has been keen on drones as opposed to putting boots on the ground due to the huge cost savings and less political damage since fewer soldiers go back home in caskets. While drones have been successful on the battlefront, pundits contend that their real success will be witnessed in non-military applications.

This is an area that has attracted growing interest from a number of commercial entities. Africa, in particular, can benefit immensely from non-military use of drones. The following are a few areas to watch. Security African nations face several security challenges. Conservation Until recently, the use of drones for conservation has been limited by cost and range. Agriculture Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of most African economies. Summary of "Future Africa" - Africa Research Institute. On Monday 20th October 2014, ARI hosted speaker Jonathan Ledgard, director of Afrotech, leading thinker on risk, nature and technology and longtime East Africa correspondent for the Economist, who led a discussion on advanced technology in near-future Africa. “The next decade will be among the most decisive in Africa’s history” Statistics In 2003, Kenyan mobile phone penetration was between 5 and 7%.

The Journey Ledgard argues that Africa needs to embrace super-enhanced technology if the narrative of the continent is to change. Connectivity is the key when it comes to new technology and will shape the discussion ahead. At the moment, African economies are highly centralised and commerce revolves around the capital city. Ledgard introduced the “Red/Blue Flying Robots Consortium”, a spin-off of Afrotech, which aims to develop the first drone trade route in Africa by 2016.

Ledgard is convinced that e-commerce is on the verge of a breakthrough on the continent. Questions Q. A. Q. A. Q. A Radical But Possible Plan to Connect African Nations With Cargo Drones. A vision of 2020 Afrotech “Roads! Where we’re going we don’t need roads!” —Back to the Future I’m in Somalia, interviewing an al-Qaeda Shabab commander on a stretch of the malarial Jubba River. It is 2009, famine has swept the country and people are starving. This is the first time I clearly understand how important mobile phone technology has become in Africa. Five years later, I’m in Samburu, Kenya, to create another resilient technology in Africa: The world’s first commercial cargo drone route, to be operational by 2016. J.M. J.M. I am a novelist, but I am also director of a future Africa initiative at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and for the last decade I traveled Africa as a foreign correspondent for The Economist. The mobile phone contributed more to anti-poverty efforts than any single development intervention.

Even telecoms underestimated the market. When I think of what cargo drones can, and should, be, I think of the Nokia 1100 mobile phone. The donkeys of Samburu. Drone delivery nets could be the mailboxes of the future. With drone technology progressing so quickly, it may not be too long before they start dropping packages at our doorsteps. But proposals for how the vehicles can safely navigate fences, pets and small children haven't been entirely convincing so far. A pair of Australians believe they have the answer, with a system that sees drones zero in to drop deliveries into a purpose-built net, guided by LEDs to ensure centimeter-perfect accuracy.

View all The Skynet concept won't attract the publicity of big name announcements like those of Amazon and Google, but it may help shape an equally important link in the chain. Neither of the companies has offered too much detail on this last step in the delivery drone process, other than a rope seen lowering cargo in Google's Project Wing video and Amazon's assumption that everybody has nice flat landing surfaces at their front doors.

"The system would be drone agnostic," explains Burchat. You can check out the team's video submission below. Share. What you need to know about commercial drones. Wondering why you don't see drones everywhere, despite the intention of Amazon and others to deliver all the things with flying robots? Here's why: It's illegal. The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn't permit filming, crop-spraying, spying, tour-guiding, pizza delivery or any other commercial drone applications (you can, however, fly one privately). "But that's unjust! " you may rail. "Why should the government stop businesses from plying their trades? " The FAA is charged with keeping the skies safe, and drone operators could pose a danger to commercial aircraft or spy on you illegally. First, a little terminology. Rotary drones get the glory.

As for fixed-wing UAVs, the FAA just approved the first commercial use over land of the AeroVironment Puma, a four-and-a-half-foot, hand-launched fixed-wing drone and the Insitu ScanEagle (pictured above). The UAV industry is already pretty large despite the handicap of being arguably illegal. Q&A: Could drones be the future of African transport? We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines: You have to credit our authors. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.

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