Drone tech players among TIME’s 2022 best inventions

Mama; the made it!

Three organisations that work with drone technology in their operations have made the grade for TIME Magazine’s 200 best inventions for 2022, an accolade which recognises innovations whose impact in society has been positive.

The companies are; Zipline, which specialises in drone logistics; geospatial company, Leica Geosystems and Exodigo; a mapping solutions company.

Of course, Zipline has been making a positive impact on the medical logistics landscape for African countries like Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria, but the TIME people may have started noticing them since they started working with retail giant Walmart back in the US.

“Zipline revolutionised health care across parts of Africa by delivering vital medical supplies -via drone in areas unreachable by road,” went synopsis in the magazine.

“Now it is bringing its expertise to the US; in November 2021, Zipline announced a partnership with Walmart to deliver small packages straight to customers’ front doors within 50 miles of its drone distribution center in Pea Ridge, Ark. Zipline’s drones don’t land; they airdrop parachute–protected packages within 15 minutes of ordering.

Through another partnership with a health care organization in the Salt Lake City area, Zipline is delivering prescriptions, harking back to the company’s roots.”

Zipline made the cut in the magazine’s Transportation category, alongside other great innovations that rocked in 2022, including Boeing’s autonomous airborne aeroplane refuelling system, Smart City Geofencing’s digital speed limit technology; and Gatik’s driverless delivery trucks.

Also to make the grade in the Productivity category was Leica Geosystems’s BLK2FLY autonomous LiDAR UAV, a laser 3D scanning drone designed to scan hard-to-reach outdoor environments such as building exteriors and rooftops.

“This autonomous flying laser scanner can capture detailed dimensions of structures, buildings, and other hard-to-reach (or dangerous) areas,” TIME’s write-up said.

“It’s not a drone, because you don’t have to pilot it. Instead, the device uses radar sensors, cameras, and GPS—all packed into a compact carbon and glass fiber frame—to create what Leica Geosystems calls “3D digital twins,” while navigating around any obstacles such as trees and wires.”

Burkhard Boeckem, chief technology officer of Hexagon, which owns Leica Geosystems, the UAV can take “less than 10 minutes to create a model of a New York City high-rise,”

It was designed with more than just the world of architecture, engineering, and construction in mind; the BLK2FLY, which went on sale in April this year, has been used to monitor structural safety across 160 acres of Italy’s Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

As for Exodigo; TIME wrote; “As the world runs lower on resources, utilities, miners, construction companies, and governments are forced to find new sources of energy and critical materials. But the drilling required to discover what’s underground is often environmentally damaging and costly.

“Founded by former Israeli army intelligence unit members, Exodigo offers what it describes as a “non-intrusive” platform that uses electromagnetic, radar, LIDAR, and other sensors carried by small carts and drones to scan the ground to produce detailed 3D subsurface maps. Recently, the California Department of Transportation used the platform to identify utility lines for a project to extend Highway 70.

“The company is also carrying out pilot projects in Florida and Texas.”

Incidentally, Exodigo was also selected among the 2022 Best Things in Tech by Fast Company.

For the past 20 years, TIME editors have highlighted the 100 most impactful new products and ideas; however, this year they doubled the number to reflect a world being rapidly disrupted by technology.

“To compile the list, we solicited nominations from TIME’s editors and correspondents around the world, and through an online application process, paying special attention to growing fields—such as the electric vehicle industry, green energy, and the metaverse,” the magazine said.

“We then evaluated each contender on a number of key factors, including originality, efficacy, ambition, and impact.

The result is a list of 200 ground-breaking inventions (and 50 special mention inventions) — including life-mapping artificial intelligence, diamonds made from excess carbon in the air, and the most powerful telescope ever—that are changing how we live, work, play, and think about what’s possible.”


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