Zipline, Walmart, launch regular medical deliveries in Arkansas, USA

They have been to Rwanda. They have been to Ghana. They have been to Nigeria.

Maybe now it is time Zipline made an impact in their own home country.

And it seems the drone logistics company’s 2020 pilot tests in collaboration with fellow American retail conglomerate Walmart were a tad fruitful – now the two companies will be launching regular instant deliveries in Pea Ridge, Arkansas.

“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 USA. 

“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.”

Since announcing the service last September, Walmart and Zipline have been hard at work building a first-of-its kind 25-foot platform that serves as the infrastructure for take-off and landing. The platform, which is located directly behind the Walmart Neighborhood Market, houses several of Zipline’s proprietary autonomous aircraft as well as its flight operations crew.

At full capacity, Zipline’s aircraft can service a 50-mile radius, nearly the size of the state of Connecticut.

Eligible customers began placing orders for delivery as of November 18.

Here’s how it works:

  • The customer opens the Zipline app, orders the products they would like delivered and selects a delivery time at checkout.
  • A Walmart associate picks and packs the products and hands the package off to Zipline staff, who prepare the aircraft for launch.
  • The aircraft departs to the customer’s home, drops the package and returns to the platform. The customer can track the status of the aircraft through the Zipline app.

“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.”

A San-Francisco, USA company, Zipline perfected the art of medical drone logistics when they entered into an agreement with the Rwandan government to test the feasibility of using drone technology to deliver medical supplies into rural parts of the hilly country.

Since December 2016 when they saved two-year-old Ghislane Ihimbazwe’s life in Kabgayi, Rwanda, Zipline has since completed over 200,000 commercial deliveries of over 4.5 million units of medical supplies, serving more than 20 million people across multiple countries.

Walmart on the other hand, has been scaling its delivery network to be offered in more than 3,000 stores, reaching 70 percent of the USA population and growing in the last three years. The retailer has accomplished this through a combination of third-party delivery providers, service providers on the Spark Driver platform and associate delivery drivers. The retailer has been on the forefront of incorporating autonomous and sustainable innovations – from drones to self-driving cars – into its last mile network as it identifies additional ways to serve customers with convenience and speed.


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