Zipline unveils autonomous system for ‘best delivery experience’
The company’s next generation home delivery platform is practically silent and is expected to deliver up to 7 times as fast as traditional automobile delivery, completing 10-mile deliveries in about 10 minutes.
Zipline has announced its new platform, which allows for quiet, fast, and precise autonomous delivery to residences in cities and suburbs. “Soon, people will be able to press a button on their phone and moments later have their order magically delivered to their doorstep or backyard. Our goal for the new service is to feel like teleportation,” said Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, co-founder and CEO, Zipline.
The company's next-generation home delivery platform is practically silent (made to sound like wind rustling leaves) and is intended to deliver up to 7 times faster than traditional vehicle delivery, with 10-mile deliveries completed in around 10 minutes.
“Platform 1 will continue to efficiently cover huge areas, and this new platform, platform 2, will layer into dense areas with ultra precise deliveries, enabling a phenomenal home delivery service. Both platforms being radically more environmentally friendly than every other instant delivery alternative. This technology is the start of a more sustainable and accessible future,” said Joseph Mardall, Head of Engineering, Zipline.
Zipline has spent the last several years developing and fine-tuning Platform 2 (P2), their next-generation technology, to offer an ideal client experience at scale. Zipline's drones (Zips) fly more than 300 feet above the ground and are nearly silent, unlike other drone delivery services.
How is the drone developed?
In an announcement about Zipline’s new platform, Cliffton also mentioned that Zipline is now the largest autonomy delivery system — autonomous delivery system on the planet. They have flown the equivalent of going to the moon and back 80 times and are on track to make twice as many deliveries this year as they made in all previous years combined.
When the Zip gets to its destination, it hovers at that altitude safely and quietly, while its completely autonomous delivery droid glides down a tether, directs to the proper place, and gently drops down its package to locations as small as a patio table or the front steps of a home. All of this is made feasible by significant advances in airplane and propeller design.
“The droid's up and down motion is precisely controlled by a wrench. The side to side motion is controlled by small integrated fans in the droid itself. The droid's autonomy is powered by its own onboard sensors. That level of control means even in high winds, we can still deliver without getting blown off. The little droid is the only thing that comes to the ground for delivery, leaving the zip hovering so high up you barely notice it. But to make the ‘best delivery experience’ in addition to always being on time and delivering exactly where you want it, it is just as important that the delivery is unnoticeable. Drones that you won't notice in our world is how we designed Zipline. We design for the world we want to live in,” said Keenen Wyrobek, Chief Technical Officer, Zipline.
Several businesses in the healthcare and restaurant sectors have already agreed to use Zipline's new home delivery service. Sweetgreen is collaborating with Zipline to advance its objective of connecting people to genuine food in the United States, while also coming closer to its commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2027. Sweetgreen consumers may use 97% less energy than typical car techniques by ordering through Zipline's marketplace.
“The future of delivery is faster, more sustainable and creates broader access, all of which provides improved value for our customers,” said Jonathan Neman, Co-Founder and CEO, Sweetgreen. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with Zipline to complement our delivery strategy. Zipline’s sustainable technology and ability to reach customers quickly, with a great delivery experience, will help us give our customers what they want, when they want it.”
Michigan Medicine will use Zipline’s new service to more than double the number of prescriptions it fills each year through its in-house pharmacy. Intermountain Health will use it to deliver prescriptions to patients’ homes in the Salt Lake City metro area.
“We estimate that once Zipline launches, most of our patients will be able to have their prescriptions delivered in just a few minutes. And that is an absolute game changer for people with conditions like diabetes where going without medication for one hour could turn serious. We look forward to rolling this service out to communities starting in 2024,” said Marschall Runge, Chief Executive Officer, Michigan Medicine.
MultiCare Health System plans to use the new platform to expedite diagnostics and deliver prescriptions and medical devices throughout MultiCare’s network of facilities, including hospitals, laboratories and doctors’ offices.
And Zipline’s first customer, the Government of Rwanda, will use the company’s new home delivery service to enable urban aerial last-mile delivery to homes, hotels and health facilities in Kigali and elsewhere in the country.
“We are so excited that one of the first customers to use our fully integrated system will be who partnered with Zipline seven years ago, the Government of Rwanda. The speed, reliability, and efficiencies we brought to medical distribution reduced expiration rates by 67%, reduced maternal mortality by 88%, and reduced CO2 emissions by 97% as compared to gas cars today. Today, the Rwandan government is doubling down on our partnership to realize the full potential of instant drone delivery across all sectors,” said Okeoma Moronu, Head of Regulatory & Aviation Affairs, Zipline.
Each P2 Zip has a 10-mile service radius while carrying a 6-8 pound payload for out-and-back deliveries from a single dock. Alternatively, it can also fly up to 24 miles one way from dock to dock, charging at each dock before picking up its next delivery. As Zips can move from dock to dock, Zipline can dynamically respond to peak order times – ensuring there’s enough delivery capacity for an urgent prescription delivery or a busy Friday pizza night or weekday lunch rush.
“Over the last decade, global demand for instant delivery has skyrocketed, but the technology we’re using to deliver is 100 years old. We’re still using the same 3,000-pound, gas combustion vehicles, driven by humans, to make billions of deliveries that usually weigh less than 5 pounds. It’s slow, it’s expensive, and it’s terrible for the planet,” said Cliffton. “Our new service is changing that and will finally make deliveries work for you and around your schedule. We have built the closest thing to teleportation ever created - a smooth, ultrafast, convenient, and truly magical autonomous logistics system that serves all people equally, wherever they are.”
Zipline plans to conduct high-volume flight tests this year involving more than 10,000 test flights using about 100 aircraft. The first customer deployment of P2 will follow shortly after that. Zipline’s record for safety has been proven over the past seven years of operations and over more than 500,000 commercial flights. Its long-range platform, P1, has autonomously flown 40 million miles worth of commercial deliveries through all kinds of weather without a safety incident – the vast majority of which were flights flown beyond visual line of sight.
Zipline has received Part 135 certification, is authorized to complete the longest-range, on-demand commercial drone flights in America, and recently received FAA approval to enable its onboard autonomous detect and avoid system.
Zipline completed more deliveries in 2022 than in all previous years combined, and is planning to complete about 1 million deliveries by the end of 2023. By 2025, Zipline expects to operate more flights annually than most airlines.