A Californian-based startup company called Zipline claims their new fixed-wing drone is capable of achieving speeds of up to 80 miles per hour (128 kph).
The company earned its stripes helping to deliver lifesaving packages of blood and medical supplies in Rwanda.
Zipline began operating in the East African nation in October 2016. Since then, their crafts have made more than 4000 journeys and travelled in excess of 300,000 kilometers. The company plan to launch in Tanzania this year.
How does it work?
The drones launch from a kind of sling system (see cover photo), similar to those used on aircraft carriers. Previous generations of this drone were only capable of 68mph but improvements in technology and streamlining the design of the craft means it can now travel much quicker and get urgent supplies to where they need to go faster.
The vision behind the development of this technology was that the UAVs will assist people living in remote communities to have access to vital medical supplies within 30 minutes.
Zipline works in conjunction with the local authorities such as the Health Ministry in Rwanda.
The delivery process
First: Medical staff at remote facilities text Zipline ordering the supplies they need
Second: Zipline’s distribution center staff (located throughout the country) prepare and pack supplies (up to 4 lbs / 1.8 kg worth) into the drone.
Third: The pilotless drone is launched (it can be remotely controlled, should any issues arise) and medical staff receive a notification informing them that the goods have been sent.
Fourth: The medical goods are dropped by parachute to the medical facility. All this occurs within 30 minutes of being ordered.
Finally: When drones comes into land, a they drift towards the catcher which is essentially two poles with a wire strung between them. Each drone has a hook on their tail which is designed to catch the wire. Upon successful hooking, the drone comes to a complete stop and Zipline staff will switch out the drone’s battery, charge it and make the craft ready for its next launch.
The drones operate in all weather conditions, complete up to 500 flights a day and have an effective delivery range of 50 miles (80 km)
You can check out more information in their video below:
We’re glad to see this company making a positive difference in countries in need. We’ll keep you updated on their roll-out and progress in Tanzania and other nations in the near future.