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angle-left 28.Mar.2014

Swiss WorldCargo announces partnership and support for the 2014 “Flying Donkey Challenge”


Swiss WorldCargo, the airfreight division of Swiss International Air Lines, is providing logistical and other support to Switzerland’s La Fondation Bundi, a non-profit organization, for the first staging of the “Flying Donkey Challenge”, which will be held in Kenya in November 2014. Under the Challenge, universities and corporations from all over the world will demonstrate the capabilities, safety and benefits of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) designed to meet cargo transportation needs in rural areas of Africa and other remote parts of the world.
Some 33 teams from Africa, Australia, Europe, India and North America have applied to participate in the first Flying Donkey Challenge (FDC), which will take place in Kenya between 8 and 16 November. The applications are from universities, start-ups and companies with recognized research, proven technology and experience in UAV.
“Multidisciplinary teams of engineers, designers, lawyers, regulators and business partners will be collaborating to demonstrate the benefits and promote the acceptance of ‘flying donkeys’ – cargo robots with a maximum takeoff weight of 60 kilos that could play a crucial role in the future of logistics and offer great transport opportunities, especially in fast-growing economies with infrastructure gaps such as Africa,” says Simon Johnson, the Director of the FDC. 
Swiss WorldCargo and further partners will be providing logistics support for the FDC teams and their equipment between their place of origin and the Challenge venue. SWISS’s airfreight division is also sharing its expertise and experience in the global air cargo market to help the Challenge participants to understand the potential practical applications of the knowledge developed. 
Swiss WorldCargo was particularly pleased to note that Andreas Raptopoulos, the co-founder and CEO of Matternet, attended the IATA World Cargo Symposium in Los Angeles in March 2013 and demonstrated the possible use of UAVs for goods transportation in places like rural Africa. 
“Networks of small autonomous flying vehicles will be the next paradigm of transportation. In the short term they will revolutionize last-mile medical delivery; over time they will become a new platform for commercial transactions, enabling unprecedented access to markets and commercial goods to communities that are currently under-served due to inadequate infrastructure. These new local aerial networks will interface with and extend the reach of the current long-range current aerial cargo networks,” says Andreas Raptopoulos.
Swiss WorldCargo is also keen to explore what role UAVs might play in extending its own scope and services. SWISS’s airfreight division appreciates that the air cargo industry is being transformed by new business models in manufacturing (such as nanotechnology and 3D printing), e-commerce and distribution. Swiss WorldCargo’s partnership with the "Flying Donkey Challenge" is also part of its corporate social responsibility programme. 
“The question is not whether but when and how cargo robots will appear in our skies and work alongside aircraft and trucks,” says Oliver Evans, Chief Cargo Officer at Swiss International Air Lines and Chairman of the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA). “My guess is that it will happen first in unexpected areas, driven by disruptive new entrants and benefiting the millions living in remote regions who will soon have access to the Internet and global trade using low-cost smartphones. Our partnership with the "Flying Donkey Challenge" underlines our commitment to social responsibility, innovation, and learning from diverse fields of endeavor.”

About the Flying Donkey Challenge 
The Flying Donkey Challenge is an escalating series of sub-challenges held annually in Africa. The Challenge offers world-leading roboticists, engineers, regulators, entrepreneurs, logisticians and designers the opportunity to win substantial grants by advancing the safety, durability, legality, profitability and friendliness of flying parcel carriers on a massive scale. Before 2020, with world media attention, the sub-challenges will culminate in a race of ‘flying donkeys’ – cargo robots with a maximum takeoff weight of 60 kilos – around Mount Kenya in under 24 hours, delivering and collecting 20-kilo payloads along the way. The winner(s) will be awarded a multi-million-dollar prize.

Additional Information

Alexandra Dahl
Senior Manager
Head of Cargo Marketing and Communications

Swiss WorldCargo
Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.
CH-8058 Zurich Airport
Phone +41 44 564 42 58


Silvia Cappelli
PR & Online Communication

Swiss WorldCargo
Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.
CH-8058 Zurich Airport
Phone +41 44 564 55 02