The Drone Solution

January 26, 2021
Author: Samory Araujo, Head of Solutions Mapping, UNDP Cabo Verde Accelerator Lab

When it all started

The Covid -19 endangered the future of health, the economy (employment, the business market), and social interactions. The pandemic has brought uncertainty in the entire social sphere, and it is in this context of uncertainties and paradigm shifts in the way we deal with each other, that the Accelerator lab Cape Verde received at Lab Open Day*  the Seed Plant Drone solution by Érico Pinheiro.

For Érico Pinheiro it all started in 2015 when he was about to complete his Master's degree in Computer Science at Bridgewater State University in the United States. At that time, Erico decided to create and present a project that was something that could help the country. And it was during a conversation with one of his uncles, about his grandfather, a former farmer, that the idea took shape. His grandfather, due to his age, could no longer move easily to the countryside and so he had the idea of building something that helped him sow and patrol his land from home. As a result of this conversation combined with the strong desire to build a drone, the Seed Plant Drone (SPD) project was born, or Seed Planter Drone. From there, Eric began building drones for agriculture and reforestation.

The drone´s versatility

A new chapter has started for the drone project, “Since I started, I’ve always used my own resources,” Pinheiro said in a recent interview. “But of course, if I had funding, I could have developed at a faster pace.” but after the presentation at Lab Open Day, a new hope of partnerships and also funds arised. Due to the geographic isolation of many areas, the Cape Verdean population’s access to health services is inherently destabilized,”. Most health services are affected, including the delivery of medicines and medical samples for analysis at hospital labs. Érico set up his start-up Prime Robotics to provide his versatile drones for logistics and agricultural services purposes.  With the emergence of COVID-19, Érico with the Accelerator Lab partnership have repurposed Prime Robotics to medical logistics, to help counter problems created by the COVID-19 onslaught in the islands.

Served by Drone

“The drones have been redesigned and re-engineered, so that during the pandemic, they can be used to disinfect streets, transport medicines, light medical equipment, samples, as well as other essential goods to cater for those isolated in remote island areas. Prime Robotics is also currently producing face-shields and is looking for partners to upscale its production capacity.”

In August 2020, the drone first test was successfully carried out with the reforestation and disinfection drone in the municipality of Porto Novo, Santo Antão supported by the Accelerator Lab in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment.

Last September the lab team was In Maio islands during 3 days to work on the disinfection of identified areas of the island and mainly on the open sky waste dump; the mission come back to Maio once again on October to another 3 days of disinfection to close the cycle. The team worked in partnership with Maio Municipality.

The innovative plan to use technology to disinfect cities and help on the waste management has caught up in many cities and municipal around the world . The objective is also to present to the portfolio of environment and the Ministry with the result of the operation in Maio to be escalated to other localities.

✓      The drone has disinfected with a flight radius of 3km the waste dump (the drone carried 2 liters of disinfectant at a time. The spraying drone was filled with disinfectants and   covered much more ground in less time and 50 times faster than traditional methods.

✓      A training session was provided to the municipality staff on the use of a drone.

✓      A workshop was organized on the last day to hear directly from municipal and local authorities (or their waste operators) about the consequences of the crisis on their waste system. it is essential to understand and assess the impact of the COVID-19 regarding the services

The Future(s)

The certain future:

✓      Accelerator Lab funded the creation of two drones; one will be delivered to the delegation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment in Santo Antão, and the other to the municipality of Maio island.

✓      The partnership, promotion and financial aid to develop and scale the drone project through the Accelerator Lab Cabo Verde

The uncertain future:

✓      Started the partnership discussion with UPS Flight through the UNDP Digital Transformation on a creation of a proposal to introduce to the UPS flight…

The bright one:

✓      The Drone project has been elected by the Africa Innovates Magazine as one of the 50 HOMEGROWN AFRICAN INNOVATIONS TACKLING THE COVID-19

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