The Matternet project aims to build a roadless transportation network to help the world's remote poor connect with global markets.
Mobile technologies may be bringing opportunities to the developing world, but in many places there remains a fundamental lack of basic infrastructure. So argues the Matternet project, which aims to build a roadless transportation network as a way to help the world’s remote poor connect with global markets and find a sustainable way to improve their lives. Conceived by an international team of business, design and engineering experts at California-based Singularity University, Matternet was born out of a desire to help the 1.4 billion people in the world who live in extreme poverty, usually without access to all-weather roads. Recognizing that such people “are excluded from the social and economic systems that offer a path out of poverty,” as the site explains, Matternet hopes to change that with a system of autonomous, electric, aerial vehicles. Currently just in the prototype phase, Matternet’s vehicles will ultimately be capable of carrying 2kg at a range of 10km. Ground stations will automate the flow of goods through the system and fulfill the vehicles’ energy requirements. AI-driven logistics software, meanwhile, will regulate the drones’ navigation, handle customer requests and decide packet routes optimized in real time for the urgency of the delivery, network load, weather conditions and other risk factors. Matternet’s initial business model is to deploy transportation routes and provide hardware, maintenance and services. The video below illustrates the project’s vision in further detail: For all the opportunities the internet can create, without reliable transportation, such opportunities can only go so far. Brands, engineers and social entrepreneurs: one to sponsor, partner with or otherwise get involved in? Spotted by: Matthew Smith