The list includes 2012 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow Andreas Raptopoulos, founder of Matternet, a network of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to transport medicine and goods in places with poor road infrastructure. Watch his talk.
Motherboard: So you want to do something good with drones, for once.
Andreas Raptopoulos: Yeah, exactly, I see a lot of opportunity to do good. Our particular goal is to do transportation in places that are not easily accessible. We think we stumbled upon something that can be the next paradigm for micro-transportation. We started thinking: ‘how can we serve places that are not connected by roads?’ Say, many Subsaharan African countries, many South American countries, where you need to deliver medicine, you need to deliver vaccines, you need to move blood samples for HIV—and there’s just no road to allow you to do it reliably.
We started thinking, ‘can we use drones to help us do it?’ So we created a concept—as you know, small UAVs today are very, very capable. They move very reliably, and navigate by GPS and do missions that allow you to carry small loads. Our threshold right now is 2 kilograms, which is about 4 pounds. But the problem they have now is a battery life which doesn’t allow them to travel for long distances. So we created a system that basically allows us to counteract this disadvantage. We use small landing stations that do automatic battery swaps that allow one of those vehicles to land switch batteries and go out again.
PopTech Social Innovation Fellow Andreas Raptopoulos is the founder and CEO of Matternet, building a network of unmanned aerial vehicles to transport medicine and goods in places with poor road infrastructure.
Related: The micro-everything revolution.
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