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Shipping medicine around the world is relatively simple. But in regions where many communities are served only by unpaved roads, or by no roads at all, getting that medication along the “last mile” from the distribution hub to the patients who need it is the tough part. Drone-delivery service Zipline has put that last mile at the center of its mission. Since it began operations in in 2016, the California-based company has used its drones to make more than 60,000 deliveries to thousands of hospitals, primarily in Rwanda and Ghana.

Each of Zipline’s seven distribution centers can process 1,000 delivery flights a week and can serve an area of almost 8,000 square miles. The company designed its logistics chain to keep its drug deliveries chilled to sub-freezing temperatures—which means it will have capacity to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, once one is approved. By cutting drug-delivery time from days to hours, Zipline’s service undoubtedly saves lives. It also saves energy, since its battery-powered drones have much smaller carbon footprints than do gasoline-powered trucks. And Zipline drones may soon be a more common sight in U.S. airspace: In mid-September, the company announced a deal with Walmart to begin testing on-demand delivery of health and wellness products near the retail giant’s headquarters in Arkansas.

Company information

South San Francisco
Keller Rinaudo
No. of employees (approximate)300
Sequoia Capital, TPG, Andreessen Horowitz, GV, Temasek, Baillie Gifford, Katalyst Ventures
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