Indigenous & eco-friendly Amazon Drone Prototype

by ACT & Amazônia Onlus in Brazil

We did it
On 30th June 2019 we successfully raised £6,000 with 28 supporters in 54 days

Help us develop a drone prototype, made of sustainable material from the Amazon region, in a joint Anglo-Brazilian student programme

by ACT & Amazônia Onlus in Brazil

IPANEMA (Indigenous Production of robotic Aircraft using Natural and Environmentally-friendly Materials from the Amazon region)  programme's is a first, destined to develop environmentally friendly drone engine Made in the Amazon, by Amazonians, for the Amazon. 

Through an international collaborative partnership between the University of Southampton, the federal University of Manaus and the endangered traditional ribeirinho (river-dweller) community of Xixuaú in the Brazilian Amazon, the Amazon Charitable Trust (ACT) is seeking to combat forest fires, illegal activities and empower local communities to safeguard their natural habitats.

With your help we want to deliver:

- A collaborative research programme for 2019-2020 to build a drone prototype made of sustainable material capable of undertaking useful missions.

-   Two weeks field work in the traditional community of Xixuaú in the Amazon region 

-   a 6 week internship undertaken by a team of students recruited for their skills and motivation.

-   The first part of a groundbreaking project to use innovation and technology to improve the ribeirinhos livelihoods in the Brazilian Amazon.

In 2019 ACT embarked in a 5 years programme cycle to develop drone related activities to progress on environmental monitoring challenges, generate alternative income and improve technology and knowledge transfer in a remote area of the Brazilian Amazon

Who is involved?

The University of Southampton: The University of Southampton is the leading UK university in drone technology and one of the UK’s top research universities. The engineering department is developing new ways to design robotic platforms to reduce our environmental impact as well as making use of advanced additive manufacturing technologies among other areas. The autonomous system department has also strong industry links with BAE, Rolls-Royce and Airbus. 

Federal University of Manaus: In Portuguese the Universidade Federal do Amazonas (UFAM) is a public university located in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. It is the oldest university in Brazil and one of the largest universities in the northern region of Brazil. Researchers are particularly sensitive in undertaking project that have direct impact in regard to socio-environmental challenges of the Amazon region.

Xixuaú Community:  Xixuaú is the last village on the Rio Jauaperi River, and comprehends 20 families. The area is inhabited by river-dwellers (Ribeirinhos) who are part of the traditional population of the Brazilian Amazon. Xixuaú formed a local cooperative in 2009 to take the lead in developing sustainable livelihood activities, such as marketing of non-timber forest products, handicrafts, scientific research and community-based ecotourism. Known as CoopXixuaú and formed exclusively by natives, the cooperative not only aims for financial returns, but has a fundamental commitment to generating social and environmental benefits.

Amazon Charitable Trust: The Amazon Charitable Trust (ACT) is a London based-charity established in 2009 with the mission to protect millions of acres of the Amazon rainforest by working with the local communities to develop a sustainable "blueprint" business model for local communities. ACT has successfully conducted, in partnership with local NGO’s, socio-ecological projects (such as a community botany partnership with Kew Gardens and the National institute of Amazon research) helping to foster better understanding of the Amazon Forest whilst contributing to it's preservation.

ACT is also working towards the development of a scientific research centre to facilitate research in the region for the benefit of all the communities of the river. By linking the private and public sectors and research institutions from multiple countries. Our ambition is that by generating awareness about the socio-environmental challenges of the region, we aim to mobilise forces to create a blueprint centre of innovation and technologies. To date we conducted training courses for environmental and tourist guides, health agents as well as Para biologist.


Xixuaú Community (Rio Jauaperi-Brazilian Amazon); Manaus, Brazil;  University of Southampton, UK.

The Rio Jauaperi is part of the RESEX Rio Branco – Jauaperi (581.163 ha) created by Federal decree n.9401 of 5th June 2018 – situated between the states of Amazonas and Roraima. A RESEX is a protected area designed to protect the way of life of traditional communities whilst protecting the environment through permitting sustainable economic activities only.

Why the Rio Jauaperi?

A large scale area with a dedicated population of forest dependent inhabitants.

1. The reserve is an important area for wildlife and ecosystem facilities as it is situated in a vital area to mitigate the effect of climate change in the northern Amazon and  to other parts of North and South America.

The Jauaperi RESEX is home to a thousand forest-dependent inhabitants which live in poverty, lack of income opportunities and denial of the right to education and health. 

The Rio Jauaperi is a remote region only accessible from the river and although this inaccessibility has contributed to the preservation of the environment, it has also limited its social and economic development.

2. Two aspects of territorial surveillance have been identified as directly impacting the livelihoods of the ribeirinhos on the Rio Jauaperi and are defining the need for an environmental training programme:

- Fire degradation due to intensification of drought

- Illegal activities (illegal fishing, small logging, turtles poaching, etc.)

3. The ribeirinhos community are, in the main, not involved in the acquisition of information, nor do they have access to resources to effectively monitor their local environment although they are most immediately affected by any environmental change. 

Therefore, it is essential that a process of direct technology transfer occurs to establish new skills for the communities which will improve their ability to contribute both directly and indirectly (with the assistance of NGO’s and Environmental Protection agencies) to environmental protection. The formation of local environmental agents is a guarantee of long- term sustainability and integration of local knowledge in a participative research agenda. The training programme aims to initiate the acquisition of local data and access to information relating to a broad spectrum of environmental issues to aid communities in their decision making process.

Why create drones from sustainable materials ?

The use of small drones can help tropical communities to better manage and conserve their forest. Robotic aircraft could potentially undertake a number of useful missions in the Amazon region. These range from sensor carrying aircraft capable of environmental monitoring to payload carrying aircraft capable of transporting goods, medicines and supplies in the area. For all these missions the achievement of adequate payload /range/ endurance is critical and requires careful design and the use of lightweight structures.

Most existing robotic aircraft, whether fixed wing or rotary wing make extensive use of carbon fibre composites and plastics. These materials are generally unsustainable, difficult to recycle and are relatively costly.  

Project Description 

Develop, with the help of local communities, eco-friendly friendly alternatives for the production of UAV adapted to the life and challenges of a remote village in the Brazilian rainforest.

This project success is based on the exchange of knowledge and information between traditional communities, and UK and Brazilian students and researchers.



Project IPANEMA will involve two phases:

From June to August 2019 Anglo-Brazilian students will gather information with the help of the Xixuaú community and undertake materials research and testing (with field work visits to Brazilian Amazon - Federal reserve RESEX Baixo Rio Branco- Jauaperi).

From September to April 2020 a Group Design Project (GDP), constituted of Anglo-Brazilian students, will take place, further testing the drone, proving that a viable family of robotic aircraft can be developed capable of undertaking useful missions in the context of the Rio Jauaperi and maximising the use of indigenous materials and resources.

People of the Xixuaú Community - a traditional river-dweller community, Roraima, Amazon, Brazil. 


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£500 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Raffle: 1 week for 2 pp - Xixuaú community, Brazil

Participate to a raffle to win a once in a lifetime trip in the Amazon. 100% community-based, Ecotourism at Xixuaú is owned and managed by local inhabitants, so it offers visitors deep, interactive insight into the local culture while delivering wider community benefits. - Transport from Manaus to the Xixuaú Community and back - 7 days in Maloca with full pension - Guides

£20 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Raffle: An organic t-shirt with ACT logo

A chance to win an organic t-shirt (size S, M, L, XL) with the logo of the Amazon charitable Trust.

£50 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Raffle: Unframed print of the Amazon region

A chance to win an unframed picture of the Amazon Region, taken around the Xixuaú Community featuring it's fauna or flora.

£100 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Raffle: A professional photographed print

Win a professional photographed print of the Xixuaú Community (framed). Photographers have worked in the region of the Jauaperi and featured photos in magazine such as the National Geographic and Geo Magazine.

£150 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Raffle: Lunch for 4 people with ACT in London

A chance to win a lunch for 4 people within the Amazon Charitable Trust adjacent organisation in Berkeley Square. Learn everything about and visit the office of the charity.

£250 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Raffle: Gilberto Gil O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire x 2

A chance to win 2 tickets for Gilberto Gil - Sunday 7th July 2019 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London. Gilberto Gil is a Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter. A leader of Brazil's Tropicalia movement in the 1960, Gilberto Gil is one of Brazil's and the world most celebrated singer/songwriters.

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