Drone outfit Zipline is looking to roll out its flying medical delivery services in the US later this year. The company launched the world’s first national drone delivery service in Rwanda in late-2016, making hundreds of weekly on-demand, emergency deliveries of blood to 21 transfusing clinics to the western half of the country.
The Rwandan government pays Zipline a fixed fee per medical delivery, though the terms of the deal are not known.
US activities, if approved, would come under the umbrella of the Federal Aviation Administration’s recently announced UAS Integration Pilot Programme enabling state, local, and tribal governments to ally with the private sector to deploy commercial drone services.
“In East Africa, Zipline’s drones bring people the medicine they need, when they need it in a way that reduces waste, cost and inventory while increasing access and saving lives,” says company CEO Keller Rinaudo. “We’ve been hard at work to improve our technology and are ready to help save lives in America and around the world.”
Zipline’s latest-generation drone has a cruising speed of 101 km/h and a round-trip range of 160kms with a load of up to 1.75kg.
The outfit is also expanding in Africa. Zipline and the Tanzania authorities plan to use drone delivery for blood transfusion supplies, emergency vaccines, HIV medications, anti-malarials, antibiotics, lab reagents, and basic surgical supplies.