Saudi Arabia is all set to become a global center for new heavy-lift drone technology under strategic plans by the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The World Economic Forum announced its intention to launch projects across six different thematic areas in Saudi Arabia under the Kingdom’s fourth industrial revolution (4IR) strategy, including artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, heavy lift drones, and SMEs.
Saudi Arabia is keen to improve its digital economy in alignment with its Vision 2030 which is based on the following three pillars: a vital society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. Saudi Vision 2030 is a strategic framework to reduce the country’s heavy dependence on oil. The Kingdom is keen to diversify its economy by increasing foreign investments and encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in driving the economy. Saudi is also concentrating on increasing domestic consumption by developing mega-projects and improving its public service sectors such as education, health, recreation, infrastructure, and tourism.
Saudi Arabia is taking a page from the experience of Rwanda, which has become a world leader in the use of drones, experimentation, and regulation. In 2016, a robotics company based in San Francisco called Zipline started operating drones in Rwanda. They call their drones zips. Their drones delivered medicines and blood donations every day. Due to the rapid response time and the ability of drones to deliver medical supplies, blood to remote places, Rwanda could reduce mortality rates. Zipline today has a presence in Ghana and has evolved into an on-demand drone delivery program on a national scale. After honing its game in Rwanda, Zipline started operations in North Carolina to deliver medical supplies.
Heavy lift drone technology has advanced to a stage where it requires a more sophisticated regulatory framework. This framework will be developed by the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation, Saudi Aramco, and the Ministry of Transport. The applications for heavy lift drones are endless including, facilitating the opening up of parts of the Saudi Kingdom to housing and development.