Zipline: saving lives with delivery drones

On Saturday, I was made aware of a video by Real Engineering – a YouTube channel I already followed – which goes into the details of how a company is running an autonomous drone-based delivery service for critical medical supplies including blood in remote regions of Rwanda.

I’ve been aware of companies like Amazon and Domino’s wanting to get into the drone delivery service using quad-copter type drones, but this stunned me as an absolutely incredible use of technology for humanitarian purposes.

Real Engineering teamed up with Wendover Productions and Real Life Lore – for completeness I’ve included their videos here too:

What Zipline have accomplished here is incredible – I’ve been stunned by the 5-minute order-to-takeoff response time, the 80km range, and the amount of safety and resilience built into the drones.

Even technologically, they’ve made some amazing improvements – their most recent revision of the recapture system reduced the capture target on the drone from about 3 feet to about a centimetre, and their drop target at the hospitals is as small as two car parking spaces. In some of the videos you can see a hospital has a patch of grass which is fairly worn with all the deliveries – which makes me think they’re accurately dropped by parachute to within a 50cm.