Zipline has started medical drone delivery in the U.S. – and it’s about time.
Drone delivery heroes Zipline have received a waiver from the FAA to fly their drones for greater distances than previously allowed in the United States, in a COVID-prompted decision that could advance the acceptance drone delivery across the entire country.
Zipline announced that their unique drone platform was providing drone delivery of Covid-19 tests in Africa earlier in the crisis. The CA-based company hoped to provide benefit in the battle against the coronavirus here in the U.S.
Zipline, whose drones have flown more than 39,000 deliveries worldwide, will fly hospital supplies including personal protective equipment (PPE) about 32 miles between a drone launch facility near Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center and the Novant Health Respiratory Assessment Center outside Charlotte, North Carolina.
Medical drone delivery in the U.S. has slowly gotten started with the delivery of samples on medical campuses, and with short range delivery of prescriptions. The Novant project is the first emergency medical delivery operation in the U.S. for Coronavirus response.
The application leverages the expertise that Zipline has established overseas, and is significant for drone delivery. The more than 30 mile trip is flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) without visual observers, and is a true long distance drone delivery case here in the U.S. The Zipline platform can accommodate a wide variety of payloads – if successful, the project could be expanded to make many types of healthcare delivery more efficient – serving remote areas that require longer distance delivery.
That’s exactly what Zipline hopes to do. “Our mission is to provide every human on Earth with instant access to vital medical supplies,” says the company.
“Recent advances in logistics — like instant, on-demand delivery — mainly serve those in the biggest, wealthiest cities. Zipline is a transformational change in logistics. We provide equal access to on-demand delivery, globally, and for the deliveries that matter most.”