Zipline is an American medical product delivery company that designs, manufactures, and operates delivery drones. Zipline came to light with its successful drone delivery chain in Rwanda. The global supermarket chain, Walmart, and Zipline have partnered to launch an instant drone delivery service in Pea Ridge, Arkansas.
Zipline launched its drone delivery service in Rwanda in 2016. Since then, they have begun operations in Ghana as well. The drones are stationed at a droneport. The droneport is where Zipline workers load the drones with a medical payload, launch the drones through a hydraulic launchpad, and intercept return flights.
As the e-commerce industry grows, so will the demand for delivery trucks. An autonomous drone delivery network could ensure the sustainability of the logistics industry. A similar system established by Wing in Australia has proven that drone delivery is not only faster but also up to 90% cheaper.
Zipline and Walmart will deliver health & wellness products
The partnership will serve the region of Pea Ridge in Arkansas. This is one of the first projects that will deliver orders directly to the homes of customers. Another company called Flytrex is testing a similar backyard delivery project in Fayetteville, NC. Especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce has seen a steep rise. Therefore, drone deliveries like these will make same-day deliveries faster and more efficient.
“Zipline’s autonomous aircraft present an incredible opportunity to offer customers an on-demand delivery option for the items they need now, such as a thermometer, non-prescription medication or an emergency pack of diapers,” said Tom Ward, senior vice president, Last Mile Delivery, Walmart U.S. “Even more, Zipline’s aircraft can help provide immediate access to needed items for both hard-to-reach and at-risk populations, such as rural communities and elderly customers. By bringing this game-changing technology to the rural community of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, we’re continuing to look for ways to make shopping with Walmart convenient and easy – for everyone.”
Zipline and Walmart have been building a 25-foot take-off and landing platform for the drones. According to a press release, once the infrastructure is at full capacity, Zipline’s drones can deliver up to a 50-mile radius.
How does it work?
Most drone delivery services around the world follow a standard procedure:
- The customer orders a product from the Zipline app. They select a particular time slot for the delivery during checkout.
- Walmart fulfils the order request, packs the order and hands it over to a Zipline associate. The associate then loads the product onto a delivery drone.
- The drone takes off for the customer’s home, parachutes the package down and heads back to the landing zone.
The entire flight process is autonomous and does not require human intervention. This makes the operation of hundreds of drones seamless and controlled with minimal chance of error.
“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that instant logistics can have in making important, even life-saving products, available on a moment’s notice,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder, and CEO of Zipline. “At the same time, the past two years have proven the need to bring health products closer to home, where they are more accessible. Working with Walmart, we’re able to bring this type of service to Northwest Arkansas, showcasing what the future of health access looks like.”
The future ahead for logistics is through automated delivery networks. Walmart has already begun testing its autonomous truck delivery service. Rapid drone delivery chains can work round the clock at a fraction of the cost. Drone deliveries are nearly fifty times less environmentally invasive compared to conventional truck deliveries. Additionally, if the droneport is powered using solar or other renewable sources of energy, it could pave the way for net-zero emissions from the logistics sector.