Zipline’s new baby: It’s quiet
We know babies cry. A lot. It is an adorable proof of live that a parent loves to hear.
But this new baby from Zipline does not make a sound.
And the company loves it that way.
Last week, the American drone logistics company a new delivery platform, the Platform 2 (P2) that it claims will provide quiet, fast and precise autonomous delivery directly to homes in cities and suburbs.
“The company’s next generation home delivery platform is practically silent (designed to sound like wind rustling leaves), and is expected to deliver up to seven times as fast as traditional automobile delivery, completing 10-mile deliveries in about 10 minutes,” Zipline said in a statement.
Clearly developed with the urban consumer delivery market in mind, the new P2 Zips have a flight range of a 10-mile (about 16km) service radius while carrying a 6-8-pound payload for out-and-back deliveries from a single dock (more on the docking system later). Alternatively, it can also fly up to 24 miles (nearly 38.5km) one way from dock to dock, charging at each dock before picking up its next delivery.
“Because Zips can move from dock to dock, Zipline can dynamically respond to peak order times – ensuring there’s enough delivery capacity for an urgent prescription delivery or a busy Friday pizza night or weekday lunch rush.”
By comparison, the new Zips’ older sisters, the P1, can fly for 80km one way, chiefly on medical supply deliveries to remote places. It is safe to say they still got life in them for the foreseeable future.
While older model Zips would air drop their packages a designated drop zone when they arrive at their destination, the new models will release a droid that will fly down to deliver the package before back up to the Zip, and off it goes back to base.
Maybe that is because the packages to be delivered will include food, and you really do not want to drop a pizza or takeaway delivery from 300 feet, do you?
For the same reasons, the packing and take-off system is also different from the pioneer P1, which released on its way via a catapult system.
“Zipline has spent the last several years building and fine tuning its next generation technology, Platform 2 (P2), to provide an optimal customer experience at scale,” the company says.
“Unlike other drone delivery services, Zipline’s drones (Zips) fly more than 300 feet above the ground and are nearly inaudible. When the Zip arrives at its destination, it hovers safely and quietly at that altitude, while its fully autonomous delivery droid manoeuvres down a tether, steers to the correct location, and gently drops off its package to areas as small as a patio table or the front steps of a home.”
The Government of Rwanda, Zipline’s pioneer and long-term partner that was the first top open its doors for medical drone delivery in 2016, will use the new home delivery service to enable urban aerial last-mile delivery to homes, hotels and health facilities in Kigali and elsewhere in the country.
Zipline plans to conduct high-volume P2 flight tests this year involving more than 10,000 test flights using about 100 aircraft, with the first customer deployment to follow shortly afterwards.
According to Zipline, a number of other companies have already signed to put the P2 to test in the US, including restaurant chain Sweetgreen; and healthcare entities Michigan Medicine, Intermountain Health, and MultiCare Health Systems.
“The future of delivery is faster, more sustainable and creates broader access, all of which provides improved value for our customers,” said Jonathan Neman, Co-Founder and CEO of Sweetgreen. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with Zipline to complement our delivery strategy. Zipline’s sustainable technology and ability to reach customers quickly, with a great delivery experience, will help us give our customers what they want, when they want it.”
Zipline’s new platform includes a dual-use docking and charging hardware; software that will work with third-party inventory management and ordering systems; an app that allows order tracking down to the second; and an autonomy system that has already guided the flight paths of 40 million commercial miles.
The docking and charging hardware system was designed to have a light footprint that can be attached to any building or set up as a freestanding structure. A Zip can be easily loaded by a business’ employee who can send off orders in seconds, right from their location, without even having to leave the kitchen, pharmacy or doctors’ office.
“Businesses can offer Zipline’s home delivery service in a variety of ways, including native integrations into apps and websites, white labelled opportunities, and by joining Zipline’s marketplace. Customers can make on-demand orders, or schedule the exact time they’d like their package to arrive, down to the second.”
“Over the last decade, global demand for instant delivery has skyrocketed, but the technology we’re using to deliver is 100 years old,” said Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, co-founder and CEO of Zipline.
“We’re still using the same 3,000-pound, gas combustion vehicles, driven by humans, to make billions of deliveries that usually weigh less than 5 pounds. It’s slow, it’s expensive, and it’s terrible for the planet. Our new service is changing that and will finally make deliveries work for you and around your schedule.
“We have built the closest thing to teleportation ever created – a smooth, ultrafast, convenient, and truly magical autonomous logistics system that serves all people equally, wherever they are.”