Flying Donkeys in Africa

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 12:54

While our core business at UAV Protect relates to the insurance needs of operators and manufacturers worldwide every now and then we like to look at the impact UAVs are having in a social context. We have known about ‘The Flying Donkey Challenge’ for a while and were keen to direct some more attention to the excellent work that they are undertaking.

The project is run by La Fondation Bundi a non-profit initiative of the Afrotech project at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss National Centre of Competence for Research in Robotics (NCCR). The foundation aims to pioneer a new transportation system for the world by developing robots with rugged air frames capable of safe and cheap unmanned flight of heavy cargo over long distances.

Africa faces a huge infrastructure challenge. The World Bank estimates that Africa needs to spend $38bn (£25bn) more each year on infrastructure - plus a further $37bn on operations and maintenance just to sustain its current level of development. With the level of investment required it’s no surprise that alternative solutions are being sought.

This is where the Flying Donkey Challenge fits in, the project has the idea and vision that some transportation can be taken from the roads to the sky. The first commercial flying donkeys, due in Africa by 2020, will carry at least 20 kilos over 50 kilometres in less than one hour. While this alone is not the answer to Africa’s transportation challenges if implemented successfully there is huge potential to supplement transportation from the sky and relieve pressure on the road networks.

We look forward to following the developments closely and hope to see really progress made on this exciting initiative.