It's not enough that Norman Foster has designed spaceports for earth and 3D printed moon bases, (not to mention a certain office building likened to a spaceship), now he's hopping on the meme of the year, the drone.
Foster sees a real future for them:
Cargo drone routes have utility wherever there is a lack of roads. Just as mobile phones dispensed with landlines, cargo drones can transcend geographical barriers such as mountains, lakes, and unnavigable rivers without the need for large-scale physical infrastructure.
He calls drones an "infrastructural leap" that could deliver blood, medicine and other emergency supplies quickly and cheaply, with smaller red drones for medicine and larger drones for commercial uses like spare parts and electronics. And the droneports will serve a wider use:
It allows for safe landing of quiet drones in a densely packed area, and includes a health clinic, a digital fabrication shop, a post and courier room, and an e-commerce trading hub, allowing it to become part of local community life.
The Droneport is imagined as a ‘kit-of-parts’ where only the basic formwork and brick-press machinery is delivered to site, and the raw materials, such as clay for bricks and boulders for the foundation, are locally sourced, reducing material transport costs and making it more sustainable. The central idea is to ‘do more with less’ and the vaulted brick structure with a minimal ground footprint, can easily be put together by the local communities.
In the press release, Jonathan Ledgard, Founder of Redline, describes the future of drones:
It is inevitable on a crowded planet, with limited resources, that we will make more intensive use of our sky using flying robots to move goods faster, cheaper, and more accurately than ever before. But it is not inevitable that these craft or their landing sites will be engineered to be tough and cheap enough to serve poorer communities who can make most use of them. Droneport is an attempt to make that happen, and to improve health and economic outcomes in Africa – and beyond.