These drone deliveries drop down from up to 300 feet high in a tethered ‘droid’ with its own propellers to target small landing zones like a table.
Zipline is revealing its new drone delivery platform today that the company says is capable of making a 10-mile delivery in 10 minutes, precisely placing packages on small targets like a patio table or the front steps of a home.
The new drone, which Zipline calls the Platform 2 (P2) Zip, uses a system of wires that lets down the package inside a cute little mini-bus-looking container the company describes as a “delivery droid.” The P2 Zip hovers more than 300 feet above the ground at the delivery point, keeping its blades and noise away from people (and trees and wires and buildings) to let down its tethered droid instead.
The droid has the ability to steer with propellers as it’s coming down, then lands and softly drops its payload.
The P2’s delivery system is designed to work as a freestanding dock where employees can walk outside and load up a droid, or it can be installed in a building, where a droid can be let down through a tunnel and wait for someone to load it. The idea here is that the flying Zips could service deliveries from multiple businesses, picking up their payload from different docks as needed, preventing each location from having to manage its own drone setup.
Similar to Wing’s newly announced delivery network, Zipline says its P2 can dynamically move from dock to dock to charge up as needed and be ready to take orders. P2 can travel up to 24 miles one way without a payload and up to 10 miles while carrying six to eight pounds of weight. In comparison, Wing’s drone can carry about three pounds and is technically capable of up to 12 miles of flight one way.
Zipline’s original platform using airplane-like drones capable of traveling 50 miles to perform parachute-dropped deliveries has already been in use by Rwanda’s government for years, delivering blood, vaccines, and medical supplies. Okeoma Moronu, Zipline’s head of global aviation regulatory affairs, said in a press release that the company has completed more than 500,000 deliveries and plans to complete 1 million deliveries by the end of 2023.
It’s also been tested by Walmart in Arkansas and used in places like North Carolina for medical supplies and in Ghana for covid-19 vaccines. Partners like Sweetgreen, several rural healthcare companies, and the government of Rwanda have already signed on to try the new version.