Sensors and drones show promise for combating global hunger, according to Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association. Writing in The Washington Post, he recounts a 2013 trip to Ethiopia, in which he discovered a sensorized urinal in a restroom in a small town. Such sensorization is possible, he writes, because sensors are dirt cheap.
As for combating global hunger, DuBravac writes, “There’s enough food in the world to feed every person on the earth, yet through a combination of inefficiencies, supply-chain obstacles and oppressive government regulation, hundreds of millions of people are undernourished.” He says he has heard stories of unwanted food rotting in African farms located only miles from desperately starving people.
“Equipping food-supply material such as storage containers, warehouses, and shelves with sensors allows us to know instantly the moment a shortage exists,” he writes.
Of course, carrying needed food even a few miles can be difficult if adequate roads are lacking. This is where drones come in. “The rise of commercial drones removes perhaps the biggest obstacle for food supply efforts—the need to take food from point A to point B over treacherous roads,” he writes. “While we are farther away from seeing the ‘Drone Delivery Age’ than we are from equipping storage facilities with sensors, we’re closer than you might think.”
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