Drones to the rescue
Drone delivery in Rwanda. © Zipline.
Drone startup Zipline has been making deliveries to remote hospitals in Rwanda since 2016. Today, it announced a major expansion into Tanzania, with four distribution centers with up to 30 fixed-wing drones each, making up to 500 delivery flights per day. Zipline delivers life-saving blood packs, vaccines, HIV medications, anti-malaria drugs, and critical medical supplies like sutures and IV tubes to hard-to-reach hospitals. Orders are placed on WhatsApp, with deliveries typically arriving within 30 minutes. The drones overfly the delivery location, parachute their cargo and head back to the distribution center, all without landing. The fleet has recently seen improvements in aerodynamics and battery design to fly farther, faster, and with heavier payloads; plus, parts can now be swapped in and out quickly and easily. Keller Rinaudo, founder and CEO of Zipline, put it succinctly: “Rwanda and Tanzania are showing the world how to use robotic technology to save lives.”
⇨ IEEE Spectrum, “Africa leads the world on drone delivery: flights to begin in Tanzania in 2018.”