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World's fastest delivery drones are saving lives. Here's how

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The drones can deliver blood or other medical supplies up to 50 miles away.


From fighting wildfires to inspecting pipelines to spying on poachers, aerial drones have been put to all sorts of uses. And now they're helping save human lives. In 2016 a Silicon Valley startup began using its drones to deliver blood in the East African nation of Rwanda — and the company plans to bring the service to the U.S. later this year.

Made by Zipline in Half Moon Bay, California, the battery-powered drones look like small planes and weigh about 25 pounds. They fly at speeds of up to 80 miles an hour and can deliver up to four pounds of blood or other medical supplies over distances of up to 50 miles.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/blood-carrying-drones-could-save-lives-us-here-s-how-ncna868561

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The world’s largest company by revenue is getting serious about drones. Today, Walmart said it would launch a drone delivery pilot in Bentonville, AR, with unicorn Zipline. Last week, Walmart ann

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The world’s largest company by revenue is getting serious about drones.

Today, Walmart said it would launch a drone delivery pilot in Bentonville, AR, with unicorn Zipline. Last week, Walmart announced a similar pilot program in Fayetteville, NC, using cloud-connected quadcopters from Israeli startup Flytrex. 

  • A Grand Forks, ND, Walmart supercenter is already delivering food packs with Flytrex drones. 

Back to Bentonville...then to Africa

Bentonville = Walmart HQ. The flights in Walmart’s backyard are slated to begin early next year, with deliveries of “select health and wellness products.” Walmart will expand to general merchandise if pilots are successful. 

Zipline, which officially launched in the U.S. in May, is familiar with scaling drone logistics. It serves virtually all of Rwanda and millions of people in Ghana. Zipline’s drones are reusable, electric, autonomous, and capable of servicing a 50-mile radius. In Africa, they drop vaccines, blood, and medication in boxes with parachutes. 

Sky high: Delivery volumes and operational tempo are experiencing hockey-stick-like growth during the pandemic. It took Zipline 3.5 years to reach 100,000 deliveries, then just 3.5 months for 200,000 (announced last week).  


1) Don’t sleep on Zipline.
2) Drone delivery will take flight in rural, exurban, and suburban places, in that order. Population-dense cities can have sidewalk delivery bots, as a treat. 
3) Healthcare-oriented deliveries get the right of way.
4) Drones still face technical and regulatory hurdles that have so far precluded commercial delivery services. 

Even after drilling flashcards all weekend with takeaway #4, I have to say it: Walmart could be laying the foundation for a powerful new logistics play. Its superstores are conveniently located in places conducive to drone delivery. And the retailer sells plenty of health products that pair well with on-demand delivery.

Zoom out and up: Walmart doesn’t want to cede the airspace to Amazon, or Alphabet’s Wing, or UPS, or Wayne Enterprises, or the many others tinkering with drone deliveries.


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