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Drone Startup 'Zipline' Is Saving Lives

January 04, 2019 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:40 AM UTC

Here's how.

Drones have brought big changes to entertainment, to sports, to real estate, even to pizza delivery. But one company wants to use its drones to save lives. Its mission is bold-- bring life saving medicine to the most difficult to reach places on the planet. Zipline is the world's only drone delivery system operating at a national scale. In 2016, Zipline launched in Rwanda, Africa, where just 25% of roads are paved. Impassable mountains and washed out roads are no match for the drones, which deliver blood and medicine straight to remote clinics. Here's exactly how it works. First, health workers at clinics or hospitals text their orders to Zipline. The medical products stored at Zipline's distribution center are then prepared for flight. Health workers receive confirmation that their order has launched. In under 30 minutes, the medical products are delivered by parachute into a designated area. The Zipline drone then returns to home base. To date, Zipline has delivered over 7,000 units of blood and taken over 10,000 flights. Approximately 1/3 of those have been an emergency life saving situations. Zipline has since expanded to Tanzania, and it hopes to launch in the US too. Zipline's long term mission? To build instant delivery for the planet. In a world where billions of people lack adequate access to essential medical products, that can't happen quickly enough.