During his recent TED talk, Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO and co-owner of Matternet, detailed his vision for the future of goods transport.
Raptopoulos believes that Matternet’s proposed network of small drones can supply the 1 billion people on the planet who don’t have year round access to a road network. Rather than spending the next 50 years developing a congested transport infrastructure that is energy inefficient, he suggests a solution which could be compared to the way the developing world has created a communication system through mobile networks without first laying copper wire.
Matternet proposes a self-regulating delivery system utilising unmanned flying drones, which would run indefinitely like the internet. His vision is that this would become the world’s next layer of infrastructure enabling the delivery of healthcare, food, and any number of other supplies to currently inaccessible regions.
The system would consist of three components – the actual flying vehicles, landing stations, and operating software. Matternet should also be very cost-effective, with a 10km journey costing only 24 cents. After a successful, test in Haiti following the earthquake last year, they hope to establish a test network in Lesotho to serve hospitals – the drone network serving six labs and 47 clinics would cost less than $1 million to implement.
Rastopoulos ends his talk by encouraging those who think it a wild idea to think outside the box, “Imagine if the next big network we build in the world is for the transportation of matter. We need to engage in social fiction to make it happen.”