Rwanda Plans Airport For E-Commerce Drones

20 October 2015, 11:28 am EDT By Mark Lelinwalla Tech Times
Drone enthusiast arrested for flying DJI near Tel Aviv Airport landing strip
The droneport could begin construction as soon as next year, expecting each drone to deliver cargo weighing up to 22 pounds.  ( Bruce Bennett | Getty Images News )

If e-commerce drones are going to fill the air in abundance someday soon, they're going to need a massive space to all land and be stored in.

And Rwanda might be the first country to build a droneport — an airport for drones — according to Bloomberg. The news agency reports that a little town known as the Land of a Thousand Hills in Rwanda is planning the construction of a droneport during the second half of next year, so that e-commerce drones can deliver urgent packages to remote locations and return back to a base.

According to Bloomberg, the project is being backed by London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners and Afrotech, an African technology group sparked by the Swiss research university Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. If this goes well, the model could be scaled and replicated across Africa in years to come.

"We want to pioneer ghost railways in the sky," Jonathan Ledgard, a director at Afrotech, told Bloomberg. "Larger loads going longer distances in quiet, beautiful, ultra-cheap craft is a different vision to Amazon's insect approach of bristling tiny drones carrying small loads short distances."

(Photo : Bruce Bennett)

Amazon continues to face regulations in trying to get permission to deliver products via drones in the United States. Many places overseas don't have that problem.

The drones used in the Rwanda project are capable of lifting and delivering 22-pound packages each. This project, which Ledgard says will cost $6 million annually, aims to have three droneports built by 2020, covering half of Rwanda. If the project goes well, it can spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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