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Switzerland based drone technology developer WeRobotics has partnered with Zimbabwean drone service company Precision Aerial to establish a technology and innovation hub named Zimbabwe Flying Labs.

The aim of the partnership is to provide solutions to social challenges and meet local needs through drones and robotics, the companies say.

“We have recently been granted the country license to set up and run Zimbabwe Flying Labs in partnership with WeRobotics and Precision Aerial,” Diana Banda, Zimbabwe Flying Labs communications and public relations leader told Biztech Africa on Wednesday.

The Zimbabwe Flying Labs, which was launched last week, plans to work in three key areas in the southern African nation: catalysing business; facilitating the drone and robotics ecosystem and building local skills in drone technology.

“Zimbabwe Flying Labs will help build up the local drone industry by organizing ‘Drones as a Service’ incubation programs that facilitate project opportunities and support for local entrepreneurs,” said Switzerland -based WeRobotics.

“Their focus will predominantly be on agriculture and smart farming, disaster mitigation and management, environment management, and healthcare delivery.”

WeRobotics is a global organization that develops drone technology, robotics platforms and ecosystems and provides training for drone use for social and humanitarian impact.

In a blog post on Thursday last week, WeRobotics said the Zimbabwe Flying Labs team has already trained students on drones operation in disaster risk planning and post-disaster assessment and management with a local non-governmental organization (NGO).

“This training helped community leaders in rural areas understand how drones could help them and afforded many of them their first opportunity to see and operate the technology themselves,” reads part of the blog.

WeRobotics said Zimbabwe Flying Labs will work with innovators, manufacturers, service providers, academic institutions, NGOs, and the government to nurture drones for a social good ecosystem.

WeRobotics said the Zimbabwe Flying Labs organizes hands-on hardware and software training for various drone platforms and use cases.

“They work with several certifications, academic, and training partners to provide programs like bootcamps for schools, drone pilot training, advanced drone operations and maintenance, and simulation training. Once trained, the team will also support the participants with expert advice on their projects,” reads part of the blog.

Zimbabwe Flying Labs is part of the Global Flying Labs Network, a WeRobotics' flagship program. The Zimbabwe Flying Labs will be led by Tawanda Chihambakwe, a drone professional and licensed drone pilot as well as founder of Precision Aerial-a Zimbabwean based drone service company that has expanded its operations to South Africa.

The Global Flying Labs Network, a network of 28 drone flying labs, trained over 600 professionals and engaged more than 6 000 stakeholders and youths on drones, data and Artificial Intelligence in 2019 and 2020 around the world, says the Zimbabwe Flying Labs.

In Africa, these Flying Labs have been established in Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia, Madagascar, Senegal, Malawi and Cameroon, among other countries.

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