Why a drone startup that launched with a humanitarian focus is switching gears

Children look on, as UNICEF and the government of Malawi test the use of drones to reduce waiting times of infant HIV tests. Photo by: Aris Messinis / Matternet

MENLO PARK, Calif. — When Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO at the unmanned aerial vehicle startup Matternet, took the main stage at TED Global, he asked the audience to imagine they were in a maternity ward in Mali with a newborn in need of medication.

“What would you do today? Well, you would place a request via mobile phone and someone would get the request immediately. That's the part that works. The medication may take days to arrive, though, because of bad roads. That's the part that's broken,” he said.

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About the author

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    Catherine Cheney

    Catherine Cheney is a Senior Reporter for Devex. She covers the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology and innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And she frequently represents Devex as a speaker and moderator. Prior to joining Devex, Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University, worked as a web producer for POLITICO and reporter for World Politics Review, and helped to launch NationSwell. Catherine has reported from all over the world, and freelanced for outlets including the Atlantic and the Washington Post. She is also the West Coast ambassador for the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit that trains and connects journalists to cover responses to problems.