Inspiration Projects

Zipline: Using Drones to Improve Access to Urgent Medical Supplies

Maker: Zipline 

Challenge: For people living in remote places with difficult terrain and infrastructure deficiencies, getting access to emergency medical supplies is a major challenge. According to Zipline, “more than two billion people lack adequate access to essential medical products, such as blood and vaccines.”

Solution: Zipline improves access to urgent medical supplies with on-demand drone deliveries to remote clinics. Health workers order supplies by text message, then Zipline dispatches a drone from their distribution center which then flies directly to the clinic and drops off the products by parachute.  Each drone has a roundtrip range of 150 km and can make about 500 deliveries per day, even in tricky weather conditions. Powered by lithium-ion batteries and twin electric motors, the drones are highly reliable, environmentally-friendly, and have a low operating cost.

Results: In 2016, Zipline launched operations in Rwanda on a national scale with the goal of making 50-­150 deliveries of blood per day to 21 transfusing facilities. “It was because of Zipline that I was able to regain consciousness. They delivered the blood in a few minutes,” said one beneficiary. In 2017 Zipline also launched services in Tanzania.

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