Below is a detailed explanation and resources on the Zipline drone delivery service operation sent by Isreal Bimpe who works with the Zipline Global Operations Team.
I am Israel, I am on the Zipline Global Operations Team. Before answering the questions, let me share a few resources that would address most of the questions posed.
Here are a couple of articles.
In the Air With Zipline’s Medical Delivery Drones
– IEEE Spectrum https://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/drones/in-the-air-with-ziplines-medical-delivery-drones
Inside Zipline’s new distribution centre | The New Times | Rwanda https://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/inside-ziplines-new-distribution-centre
What the world can learn from Rwanda’s approach to drones | World Economic Forum https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/what-the-world-can-learn-from-rwandas-approach-to-drones/
These are a bit old but could be a good source of information as well.
How Delivery Drones Are Saving Lives in Rwanda | Fortune http://fortune.com/2019/01/07/delivery-drones-rwanda/
How Zipline Helps Remote Regions Get Blood From a Drone | WIRED https://www.wired.com/story/wired25-anne-wojcicki-keller-rinaudo-zipline-medical-drones/
African experiments with drone technologies could leapfrog decades of infrastructure neglect | TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/2018/09/16/african-experiments-with-drone-technologies-could-leapfrog-decades-of-infrastructure-neglect/
Lastly, three educational Youtubers visited Rwanda to understand what we do. they’ve each released a video that deep-dives into how our services work and the impact they have:
• Wendover Productions made a video about why blood supply chain is so hard and how our drones overcome those hurdles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnoUBfLxZz0
• Real Engineering made a video about our product development process of real-world learnings and customer-driven iteration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEbRVNxL44c
• RealLifeLore made a video about Ebola and loosely connected it to how Zipline could have a big impact in outbreak scenarios: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AvtbRndNxk&t=458s
Now, to answer some of the questions that came following Hussain’s update.
• Battery power
Each of our battery is made to last for 130 minutes, which is 30 minutes more than our longest flight time.
• Safety Features
Check a video we made on our best-in-class safety and reliability features. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTnBm3rXmss
We have taken many steps to ensure that we are operating the safest delivery system of this kind in the world including rigorous testing of flight software and aircraft hardware; flight operations safety procedures; redundant inflight safety features; and modular frangible design.
Particularly on redundant inflight safety features, Zipline drones are designed to automatically detect issues inflight and safely return to base for repair. Each drone is equipped with redundant flight computers, motors, communications systems, flight control surfaces, as well as redundant navigation and power systems. In the event of emergencies like severe weather, emergency requests from air traffic control or unplanned flight operation issues, each drone is equipped with a parachute that allows it to make an immediate landing by slowly descending to the ground.
• Flight/Delivery routes
Our Zips (how we call our drones) do not move on zip lines. But on pre-planned flight routes from our Distribution Center to a delivery point at a health facility. Imagine a highway in the sky with several secondary roads to different locations branching off of it. These routes get approved by the Civil Aviation Authority and each Zip will fly the same route to make each delivery. Zipline gives Civil Aviation Authorities the capacity to monitor our Zips in real-time. Pre-planned routes and real-time monitoring allows civil aviation authorities to confidently and seamlessly integrate Zipline into the airspace.
• Flight conditions
We operate in any conditions, day or night, rain, or winds.
• Quality Assurance and Quality Control
We work with our partners to pre-test the different categories of products we deliver to ensure the quality of products on take-off, cruising and delivery (in the box with a parachute) at a health facility, we then develop protocols and SOPs to ensure quality is maintained.
• Proof of delivery
Given that our service is not limited to loading Zips and deliver packages, we build tools for our customers and partners that allow real-time tracking of inventory and delivery data. This has also proven to be an opportunity to evolve how we think of things like proof of delivery, we find electronic ways to confirm delivery of products so that health workers focus on what they do best which is providing care.
Here are links to some videos that may be helpful:
Zipline LLC Drone Delivery Service Operation