Written by Uttam Pudasaini, Coordinator of Nepal Flying Labs
“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This famous quotes defines the working model of WeRobotics. We believe in “Robotics for the Benefit of All” and we are on a mission to democratize access to appropriate robotics solutions and build the local capacity in low-income and at-risk countries by establishing a growing network of local entities/expert centers known as Flying Labs.
We don’t organize one shot programs or projects. Rather, we focus on providing active support to build an ecosystem where local actors themselves can make appropriate use of robotics solutions whenever there is a local demand. Our local action labs are co-created together with our local partners – universities, not-for-profit groups, community organizations and/or local government – and with our technology partners – robotics manufacturers, associated technology companies and research institutes. We are also sharing lessons learned on the us of robotics solutions, especially for humanitarian aid, public health, global development and environmental protection efforts, by making use of appropriate robots in a responsible and meaningful way.
As Coordinator of Nepal Flying Labs, I had the opportunity to participate in two key events to share the work we’re doing in Nepal and beyond.
AOYAMA VISION Crisis Mapping Conference, Tokyo-Japan
WeRobotics was invited by CrisisMappers Japan, Furuhashi Laboratory at the Aoyama Gakuin University (AGU),Shibuya , Tokyo to give a Keynote talk on “WeRobotics and Flying Labs: Uses of Drones in Humanitarian and Social Good projects”. The Aoyama Vision Crisis Mapping Conference was a one day event that brought together the the crisis mapping departments from the local governments from different cities in Tokyo, academicians from different universities and local innovators to showcase different local solutions they have developed for better disaster response and surveillance.The event also showcased some of the Drone use related initiatives that has recently begun by partnerships between DroneBird and Local Municipal offices.
I presented the work that WeRobotics has been doing across 3 continents and introduced the Flying Labs concept and explained how we used the flying robots locally:
- To build the local capacity via Trainings ( Drone use trainings in Nepal, Tanzania)
- To respond to Earthquakes (Nepal Earthquake 2015, Tanzania Earthquake 2015),
- To provide better datasets for Flood response ( Flood in Tanzania Flood, Peru )
- To test the use drones for delivery of medicines , emergency supplies (Cargo delivery projects in Tanzania , DR)
- To develop Marine robotics solutions partnering with research wing at Universities for transportation of Medicines between islands in Philippines
- To aware the local communities regarding use of Drones for Preparedness and response (Humanitarian UAV Coordination and Workshop at Peru , Myanmar, Mozambique and Malawi)
- To incubate sustainable drone based businesses locally (Business incubation program at Nepal and Tanzania )
Most importantly, I highlighted that “drones on their own aren’t valuable unless they’re embedded in strong analytic, policy, and partnership networks,” and explained the need to strictly follow the Humanitarian Code of Conduct (UAVcode.org) for responsible and sensible use of robotics solutions. The CrisisMappers conference was filmed and the video of the event is available here. My presentation begins at 2hr 14min 40sec. My slides are also available on Slideshare.
Digital Tech for Resilience Workshop, Bangkok – Thailand
The two-day workshop on Digital Technologies for Resilience, organized by FHI 360 with funding and support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) took place in Bangkok, Thailand on November 14-15, 2017. I was invited to present the work of WeRobotics mostly highlighting the use of “UAVs for Resilience ” and what kind of support Nepal flying labs require to reach to a scale it aims to.
FHI 360 prepared an inventory which includes nearly 100 entries from Asia-Pacific, submitted through crowdsourcing, that address the resilience of individuals, families, communities, businesses or governments. The interactive workshop brought together around 84 participants from 20 countries and it included technology implementers, organizations working on resilience, and investors/donors with an interest in the intersection of digital technology and resilience.
During the five-minute lightning talk presentation on Nepal Flying Labs, I highlighted our future focus and expected challenges:
- Aerial and Marine Robotics for Climate Change Monitoring in Himalayan Glaciers
- Possibilities regarding Use of Drones for delivery of Emergency Medicines in high mountain rural villages
- Incubating more businesses locally around the use of Robotics
- Robotics for better datasets to ensure sustainable and resilient infrastructure development
- Misconceptions regarding Use of Drones among agencies and policy makers
- Funding focuses largely on one time use cases and rarely on long time projects
- More drone pilots , bigger datasets and lesser data analyst
The workshop also included a design thinking workshop where all the participants were divided into different groups and asked to work on some key problems and present their solutions. The workshop was very engaging and it created a space where participants could share with others and learn from like-minded practitioners who are effectively making use of digital technologies to enhance resilience.
The slides of my presentation are available on Slideshare.
WeRobotics would like to thank Josh Woodard, Regional ICT & Digital Finance Advisor, Asia-Pacific of FHI 360 for recognizing our work and inviting us to the event.