Drone company Zipline takes to the skies to deliver medical care packages
San Francisco based startup, Zipline, is about to begin testing its drone delivery system intended to deliver medical supplies to remote areas of the US, and then eventually to the rest of the world this week.
While it’s still pending FAA approval, which in the light of Seven Eleven’s recent flight for a less auspicious cargo of donuts, seems almost certain, Zipline’s drones will aim to demonstrate just how much of an important role drones could play in distributing critical care supplies. During its initial trials the company is going to fly to areas including Smith Island, Maryland and the Pyramid Lake Tribal Health Clinic in Nevada, where it will deliver items such as blood, medicine, and other medical products.
This isn’t Zipline’s first foray into the drone delivery business though, in April they partnered with UPS to deliver critical care products into Rwanada but, as far as the US goes they’re going to be partnering with Ellumen and ASD Healthcare as well as the non-profit organisation Bloodworks Northwest.
The company, who’s also designed its own drone which can launch up to a hundred times a day have developed their own low cost, portable launch and landing system and they’re backed by $19 million in venture capital investments from prestigious companies and individuals such as Google Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yan.
While this initial piece of testing will be conducted in the US the company’s main focus is the African market where they’ll be championing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for “health based” logistics services but, in the long term it looks increasingly likely that we’ll see these sorts of systems being used to deliver critical care packages in and around the US.