Swiss startup RigiTech, in collaboration with NGO Path, is implementing life saving technology operated locally in Senegal to support medicine, vaccine and laboratory sample delivery. The pilot project is the first step towards a more regional deployment of drone delivery services to clinics throughout the region.
International NGO PATH and Swiss drone delivery company RigiTech have joined forces in tackling one of the region’s most critical challenges: access to healthcare in remote areas. Together, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, they have successfully conducted the first steps towards long-range medical drone delivery operation in the rural region of Foundiougne in Senegal.
The purpose of this operation was to demonstrate the value of medical cargo drones in providing faster and more reliable access to essential healthcare items to remote and isolated communities in the Saloum Delta. Due to the lack of road access, round trips by boat between Foundiougne and Djirnda (28km) or Diamniadio (15km) take several hours during the dry season and can be completely impracticable during the rainy season, causing a major challenge in access to medical goods.
A successful pilot
RigiTech’s drone delivery solution (the AirBridge) allowed for its first generation drone (the RigiOne) to successfully complete the flights in a safe, fast and reliable manner, flying back and forth between Foundiougne, Diamniadio and Djirnda, covering the distance in less than 15 and 25 minutes respectively. Multiple return flights and over 100km were flown, proving the repeatability and reliability of the operation, reducing delivery times from several hours to minutes.
This operation is of particular importance as Rigitech’s CEO and founder Adam Klaptocz explains to Startupticker.ch: “As a company, we are devoted to improving logistics and access to goods around the world using our cutting-edge autonomous drone technology. Although most of our operations are currently in Europe, it was our experience in outreach communities while working in the non-profit sector that led us to found RigiTech in 2018. Our operations in Senegal bring us back to the roots of our cause, and help us build technology that’s robust to the harshest conditions and yet remains affordable.”
The pilot project in Senegal is a first step towards a more regional deployment of drone delivery services to clinics throughout the region. The next phase of the project is currently being planned, and will connect the clinics of an entire province.
All operations were conducted under a special BVLOS permission from ANACIM (Senegalese Civil Aviation Authorities), whose inspectors were present during the operation to certify the safety and reliability of the systems. These tests were used as a basis for granting a long term authorisation to deploy RigiTech’s technology throughout Senegal.
Covering ground fast and growing
Since 2019 RigiTech has grown massively as a company, moving from operating the first 3D-printed prototype drone to developing its own vertically integrated logistics platform. The startup supported by the FIT Foundation operated delivery routes and demonstrations in 6 countries on 2 continents, delivered its systems to its first customers, and created strong partnerships that will ensure its growth.
The startup just released its latest generation delivery platform, the Eiger, and will be operating its first delivery routes with this new drone system over the next few months. Although the CEO can’t give too many specifics, RigiTech is currently in the flight approval process for drone delivery operations in 4 different countries in Europe.