How do you train remote communities to operate the latest drone technology, who have never seen an aeroplane up close or flown in one?
A piece of 3D software was the last thing Eric Peck, CEO of airborne logistics company Swoop Aero, thought he needed. But his mind quickly changed after seeing his CAD files get transformed into realistic and immersive presentations. Most importantly though was the ease and effectiveness in scaling this new way of learning out to hundreds of users on the ground.
For some of the most remote communities on Earth, getting access to life-saving vaccines is an ongoing challenge. In Vanuatu, an archipelago of 83 volcanic islands in the South Pacific, many children miss immunisations as their homes are so hard to reach. But with the help of drone technology and Jig Workshop Pro augmented reality (AR) app, that’s beginning to change.
In 2018, Swoop Aero, in conjunction with UNICEF and the Vanuatu Ministry of Health, launched the first medical drone delivery service in Vanuatu. Its first recipients were 13 children and five pregnant women on the remote island of Erromango. And to prepare them for this momentous landing, Swoop enlisted the help of JigSpace.
“As soon as Eric saw JigSpace, he asked us to help them solve a problem – how to educate and train people to use their drone technology,” says Zac Duff, co-founder and CEO of JigSpace.
The Kookaburra drone, as displayed in the Jig Workshop Pro app.
And that’s how Swoop Aero started their collaboration with JigSpace, converting their drone model from a standard STEP CAD file into a Jig. This Jig (3D model presentation) was to become a core part of the training for inhabitants of Vanuatu, including healthcare staff in the region. The Jig could accurately convey the size of the drone, how it would land and how to offload the cargo – right on the ground in front of them.
Peck says that this training method not only helped everyone involved feel more at ease with the drone, but also sped up the entire vaccine delivery process.
“It’s allowed us to deliver the most cost-effective heath outcomes we can, and rapidly expand the number of recipients that we were able to train,” he says.
In 2019 Swoop Aero commenced delivery of medical supplies to other locations in Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And in 2020 they will join forces with UK Aid to transfer TB samples via drones in Mozambique.
“Excitingly for JigSpace, the AR app is at the centre of all the training packages that we’re rolling out, everywhere we operate,” says Peck.
The AR training content is easily managed and kept up to date too. When engineering modifications are made to new Swoop Aero drone models, the CAD-based engineering content is easily updated from SolidWorks 2019 via the STEP format to JigSpace which can be edited and formatted by operations or marketing staff.
The Jigs are instantly updated to healthcare workers in the regions who need to be aware of any changes to the drone instructions. Swoop Aero staff can also monitor the presentation of the Jigs to ensure they are being rolled out to the target communities by each local partner.
Another key Jig Pro feature for Swoop Aero was the offline mode, which enables healthcare staff to view or present the Jig content without an internet connection or with low-internet speeds which frequently occur in remote communities.