Featured Knowledge Resources

The following white papers, research and guidelines inform UAV developments in Africa.


standard data-based predictive modeling for power consumption in turning machining

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV, drones) used as delivery vehicles have received increasing attention due to their mobility and accessibility to remote areas. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the environmental impacts of drone versus motorcycle delivery and to compare the expected environmental improvements due to drone delivery in urban and rural areas. In addition, the potential environmental contributions of electric motorcycles were assessed to determine the effects of introducing this new type of vehicle. Changes in the national electricity generation plan were also examined. The results showed that global warming potential (GWP) per 1 km delivery by drone was one-sixth that of motorcycle delivery, and the particulates produced by drone delivery were half that of motorcycle delivery. The actual environmental impact reduction in consideration of the delivery distance was 13 times higher in a rural area than in an urban area. Increasing the use of environmentally friendly electricity systems, such as solar and wind power, would further enhance the environmental effects of a drone delivery system.

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WHITEPAPER: What should you deliver By Unmanned aerial systems?

As more low - and middle -income countries (LMICs) explore opportunities to improve efficiency and performance in their public health supply chains and diagnostics networks, they face myriad choices about how best to use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) to improve public health outcomes and reach the last mile. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) in partnership with LLamasoft and the Nichols Group wrote this paper to provide countries and public health stakeholders with objective guidance on how to make informed decisions about which health products to prioritise for delivery and by which type of UAS platform to achieve the six ‘rights’ of a supply chain.

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energy use and life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of drones for commercial package delivery

The use of automated, unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to deliver commercial packages is poised to become a new industry, significantly shifting energy use in the freight sector. Here we find the current practical range of multi-copters to be about 4 km with current battery technology, requiring a new network of urban warehouses or waystations as support. We show that, although drones consume less energy per package-km than delivery trucks, the additional warehouse energy required and the longer distances traveled by drones per package greatly increase the life-cycle impacts. Still, in most cases examined, the impacts of package delivery by small drone are lower than ground-based delivery. Results suggest that, if carefully deployed, drone-based delivery could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use in the freight sector. To realize the environmental benefits of drone delivery, regulators and firms should focus on minimizing extra warehousing and limiting the size of drones.

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USAID - UAVs in Global Health: Defining a Collective Path Forward

The authors of this report believe that to build upon past efforts and unlock UAVs' future potential in global health, a broad community of users, funders, innovators and implementers must work together to identify the most pressing needs as well as prioritize and coordinate future efforts to ensure that resources are efficiently deployed with maximum benefit.

This report applies USAIDs Idea to Impact framework to identify opportunities and challenges for UAVs to develop and scale in the global health context, and it lays out a proposed investment roadmap for donors to coordinate their investments strategically to shape and accelerate this market.

The UAVs in Global Health report:

  • Features three use case examples to illustrate some of the many ways UAVs can be applied in global health

  • Describes key opportunities for near-term investments and predicts long-term challenges as UAVs scale

  • Provides an investment roadmap with four stages: 1) establish coordinating mechanism; 2) conduct foundational analysis; 3) support promising use cases; and 4) address sector roadblocks

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Evaluation of the Business Cases for Cargo Drones in Humanitarian Action

This report evaluates the business cases for cargo drones in humanitarian interventions. Therefore, a qualitative study with 18 expert interviews was conducted. While initially the general needs in terms of transportation and the perspectives inside Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) are investigated, the study discusses the feasibility of unmanned aircrafts systems for transportation and identifies potential business cases as well as the critical factors. The small, individual and quick response to a specific limited need and the regular supply of remote health structures have been identified as most important applications. In the end, MSF programmes for the implementation are recommended as well as the technical specifications of the required UAV models.


JARUS guidelines on Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA)

This first issue of the Specific Operation Risk Assessment (SORA) is the JARUS Working Group consensus vision on how to safely create, evaluate and conduct an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operation. The SORA provides a holistic model that should guide both the operator and the responsible approving authority in establishing whether an operation can be conducted in a safe manner. The SORA is a tailoring guide that allows an operation to have the best fit for the mitigation means and thus a risk reduced to an acceptable level. For this reason, the report does not contain prescriptive requirements but rather objectives to be met.

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USAid global health supply chain program: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Landscape Analysis

This paper is a landscape analysis of the various actors, objectives, and lessons learned from use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the development context. The analysis includes six key case studies of UAVs used in health supply chains in Madagascar, Malawi, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, and Sweden to highlight successes, challenges, and recurring themes across this developing sector.


Guidance note : managing the risks of unmanned aircraft operations in development projects

From an origin in military and security applications, the use of unmanned aircraft (UA) technology is currently transforming commercial and humanitarian activity. Its evolution started many decades ago, but was limited by the technology of the time; in recent years, advances in this area have facilitated an increasingly rapid expansion of UA technology that has started to move into a variety of sectors. As the societal benefits of UA become clearer, organisations across the commercial and government spectrum seek to exploit the technology to improve their business models and offer a safer, cleaner, and more cost-effective alternative to traditional data-capture methods. 

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Drones in Humanitarian Action: A guide to Unmanned Air-Borne Systems in Humanitarian Crises

The report presents an in-depth analysis of the role that drones can play in humanitarian crises. It provides an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of the technology for different scenarios in emergencies and provides guidance to decision makers who consider using drones. In addition to a general introduction to the technology, the report focuses on the use of drones to gather information, transport cargo and in search and rescue.


The economic and operational value of using drones to transport Vaccines

Immunization programs in low and middle income countries (LMICs) face numerous challenges in getting life-saving vaccines to the people who need them. As unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology has progressed in recent years, potential use cases for UAVs have proliferated due to their ability to traverse difficult terrains, reduce labor, and replace fleets of vehicles that require costly maintenance. The study finds that use of UAVs could increase vaccine availability and decrease costs in a wide range of settings and circumstances if the drones are used frequently enough to overcome the capital costs of installing and maintaining the system. The computational model showed that major drivers of costs savings from using UAVs are road speed of traditional land vehicles, the number of people needing to be vaccinated, and the distance that needs to be traveled.


Rwanda takes off: The Future of drone delivery

Rwanda, in conjunction with public and private sector partners, plans to build the world’s first drone ports for the delivery of essential goods. Rapidly maturing technology for cargo drones presents an unprecedented opportunity for Rwanda to alleviate problems related to inefficient distribution, develop its economy, and leapfrog in key areas. The key challenges to achieving these objectives are: (1) establishing regulatory frameworks, (2) building infrastructure, (3) supporting appropriate business models, and (4) fostering local knowledge and innovation capacity. To enable Rwanda to address these challenges, this paper reviews examples of emerging drone industries in countries around the world and then analyzes historical lessons from the birth of the aviation industry. These sources provide guidance to suggest policy recommendations that will enable Rwanda to improve infrastructure, drive economic development, and become a global example of technological leapfrogging.

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review of potential ecological impacts of peaceful robotic drone use and policy implications for developing countries

A review has been carried out on the potential ecological impacts of peaceful or civilian robotic drone use and its policy implications for developing countries. The author delves into the emergence of what has become today known as drones right from the late 16th century it was first used as a hot - air balloon through its evolvement over the decades inspired by the need for national defence and global peace. The article highlights the rapid departure from the tragic use of military - grade drones to peaceful or civilian uses in the last decade to policy implications for developing countries. The article gives succinct analyses of the reported and potential pros and cons associated with peaceful drone use in developed and developing countries with the aim of assisting the later in this unavoidable policy decision at hand. Suggestions are made on the way forward through approaches to arrive at policy criteria on peaceful robotic drone use in accordance with cultural, developmental, ethical and ecological needs, aspirations and peculiarities of developing countries in need of such a framework.


EPFL: Better Use of the Lower Sky in a Sharing Economy

This personal manifesto by novelist, journalist and director of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Jonathan Ledgard, details why cargo drones are a good idea in Africa -- and beyond. The author’s goal was to help set up the world’s first commercial cargo drone route in Africa by 2016. In 2015 the author predicted that the first routes would be about 80 kilometres long and connect several towns and villages. The author further predicts that the first cargo drones would carry small payloads — probably units of blood to keep alive children who would otherwise perish. But they would quickly evolve into larger and heavier craft until they can lift 20 kilos or more over distances of several hundred kilometres. The purpose of the first route would be to show the value of cargo drones in Africa and beyond — and to raise money to build other routes.


DHL Trend Research: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Logistics

According to the report, the key question that needs to be answered is: Is this just a hype or are there substantial benefits that this new technology can bring to the logistics industry. Three impacts are at work here – technological capability, regulatory pressure, and public acceptance – and this report highlights the interplay between all three in current applications drawn from various sectors, including the logistics industry. In exploring such an intriguing topic, this report is likely to raise issues and questions for many readers. This latest trend report explores different potential applications in logistics and gives an indication how feasible the different use cases are on the horizon of the next 5-10 years. Applications that are discussed include:

  • Urban First and Last Mile Delivery

  • Rural Delivery

  • Surveillance of Logistic Infrastructures

  • Use for Intralogistics