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Matternet Promises to Use Its Autonomous Drone Network for Good Not Evil

Matternet is a startup that wants to use networked autonomous drones to deliver things like medicine to places without reliable roads.

Matternet Drones

The Internet is a great way to transport things like information, but what if you need an easy way to transport physical things — actual matter — to places without a reliable road infrastructure? You’d need a network of matter — a Matternet, if you will. Thankfully, there’s a startup called Matternet and that’s exactly what they want to build — with autonomous drones.

In order to transport goods like food and medicine to places in the world without reliable roads, Singularity University Labs has started Matternet. The startup will use quadcopter drones to transport physical items, which isn’t exactly groundbreaking. What sets Matternet apart is how it will extend its network of drones to a wider area.

Matternet is based around three primary components. There are the drones themselves. These are custom-built autonomous quadcopter designed with GPS and other necessary sensors. They can only carry a few kilograms, and travel up to 10 kilometers on their own. That’s why the second component is so crucial.

They will also build solar-powered charging stations so that these drones can replace depleted batteries with fresh ones to continue their journey. This extends their range from 10 kilometers to however large an area these stations will cover. That can be an island, or a whole continent if enough charging stations are built.

Finally, the Matternet will also have an operating system that will keep track of all the drone operations as well as inform authorities where the drones will be flying so they don’t interfere with other aircraft. It’s basically Skynet, but without the goal of destroying all humanity. Matternet has already done trials in Haiti and the Dominican Republican with plans for more tests later this year. They hope these new trials will include a test of the network rather than just individual drones, but that’s not certain yet. Either way, it’s nice to see drones being used for something other than military operations and filming sporting events.

(via Singularity Hub, image via Matternet on Facebook)

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Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.