ZIPLINE RWANDA INVESTS IN NEW FASTER UAV’S
(Posted 05th April 2018)
Zipline Rwanda yesterday unveiled the fastest commercial delivery drone presently available in the market. Zipline’s mission is to bring life-saving medicine to the most difficult to reach remote and otherwise hard to access places in Rwanda and beyond.
The Silicon Valley-based company operates the world’s first and only national scale drone delivery system, making thousands of deliveries per year. Zipline’s newest generation of autonomous aircraft now can fly farther, faster and with more cargo than was ever before possible— even in high altitude, heavy wind or rainy conditions as is often the case in Rwanda.
The new unmanned aircraft is part of a complete redesign of Zipline’s logistics system, which dramatically improves the system’s launch, autonomous flight, and landing capabilities. The improvements will decrease the amount of time between Zipline’s receipt of an order and launch of a fulfilment flight from 10 minutes to 1, increase the number of daily delivery flights that each Zipline distribution center can make from 50 to as many as 500, and expand the radius of each distribution center to serve populations of up to 10 million people.
Zipline’s new delivery vehicle is an autonomous fixed-wing style airplane. The plane is capable of flying at a top speed of 128 km/h, and a cruising speed of 101 km/h—21 km/h faster than the previous generation of aircraft—with a round trip range of 160 kilometers carrying up to 1.75 kilos of cargo.
The new UAV is capable of flying four times faster than the average quadcopter drone and can serve an area 200 times as large.
“Our first generation aircraft and logistics system allowed us to create the first and only drone delivery service in the world, which is helping to save lives in Rwanda every day,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo. “We’ve taken everything Zipline has learned making thousands of life-critical deliveries and flying hundreds of thousands of kilometers and redesigned our entire system and operation from top to bottom. The new aircraft and distribution center system we’re unveiling today will help Zipline scale to meet the needs of countries around the world—including the United States.”
Progress In Rwanda
In October of 2016, Zipline launched the world’s first national drone delivery operation in Rwanda, working hand in hand with the Rwanda government to make this happen as a pilot project.
The company was contracted by the Government of Rwanda to establish one distribution center with 15 drones to deliver blood, plasma and platelets to twenty one hospitals across the western half of the country.
Since launching the service in Rwanda, Zipline has flown 300,000 km, delivering 7,000 units of blood through over 4,000 flights, approximately a third of which have been in emergency life-saving situations.
The company is now delivering more than 20% of Rwanda’s blood supply outside of the capital, Kigali. In addition to its impact on lifesaving emergency situations, Zipline’s just-in-time drone delivery has helped transform the country’s medical supply chain.
To date, instant drone delivery has helped ensure that hospitals always have access to blood products, increasing the use of some blood products by 175% and reducing waste and spoilage by over 95%. Zipline is in the process of opening its second distribution center in Rwanda, which will help bring the entire country within range of its life-saving service.
Zipline is an automated logistics company based in California. The company — which includes seasoned aerospace veterans from teams like SpaceX, Google, Boeing, and NASA — designs and operates an autonomous system for delivering lifesaving medicine to the world’s most difficult to reach places.
Zipline’s long-term mission is to build instant delivery capacity across the entire planet, allowing on-demand delivery of medicines and other products at low cost without using a drop of gasoline. Some of the smartest investors in the world support Zipline, including Sequoia Capital, Katalyst Ventures, a16z, Google Ventures, SV Angel, Subtraction Capital, Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Stanford University.
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