Zipline’s drones launch like fighter jets from aircraft carriers, drop packages like paratroopers gliding over customers’ homes, and “land” by hitting an overhead arrester hook. In the process, they now deliver medicines from health management organizations to homes, pharmacies and hospitals in a 7,800 square mile area in North Carolina.
All inclusive, according to the company, in as little as 15 minutes, and all while dumping 98% fewer harmful emissions into the air we breathe than ground delivery by car or truck.
“We envision a future in which goods move almost instantaneously,” Ziplin founder and CEO Keller Rinaudo said in a statement.
“North Carolina is first to fly, and Zipline’s work is taking us to new heights,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper also said. “This innovative partnership will increase access to health care for our community.
The three healthcare organizations driving the service (so to speak) include Cardinal Health, a distributor of pharmaceutical, medical and laboratory products, Magellan Rx Management, a pharmacy benefit manager, and Novant Health, a service delivery organization. healthcare with 800 sites including 15 hospitals.
“While Novant Health has made great strides in our virtual care capabilities, there remains an opportunity for patients to receive all the care they need at home – from diagnosis to treatment,” said Angela Yochem, executive vice president. and Director of Transformation and Digital, Novant Health. “Innovative tools like Zipline’s on-demand deliveries allow us to completely rethink a completely remote patient care model. The potential impact of this latest launch is immeasurable, and we are extremely excited about our role in creating a blueprint for healthcare systems across the country.
While many drone delivery projects operate with traditional quadcopter drones, Zipline’s drones are fixed-wing aircraft, making them much more efficient and able to fly farther. To fly without a mini-airport, they are launched via a small catapult that can be placed on a roof. Rather than landing to deliver cargo, they release a small parachute delivery system, bringing the payload to a waiting customer, and instead of demanding a runway to land at base, they essentially run into a low-speed aerial arrest wire, are caught, captured and brought safely to rest for an attendant to resupply and, if necessary, refuel.
The company says its drones have flown nearly 24 million miles, making more than 330,000 commercial deliveries of more than 3.2 million products. Currently, the company makes a delivery somewhere every four minutes.
The company received FAA Part 135 air carrier certification on June 20, allowing deliveries up to 26 miles or 42 kilometers round trip.
“Zipline is now licensed to perform the longest range of on-demand commercial drone deliveries in the United States, with operations covering the widest area and distance of any commercial aircraft delivery system (UAS) without crew in the country,” the company said.
Zipline works with Walmart, Toyota in Japan, and nationally in Rwanda and Ghana, serving over 2,000 healthcare facilities.