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Zipline Launches World’s Largest Drone Delivery Network in Ghana, Will Service 12 Million People

BY Zacc Dukowitz
26 April 2019

Zipline just announced the launch of the largest drone delivery network in the world.

The deliveries will take place in Ghana, where 148 different vaccines, blood products, and life-saving medications will now be available on-demand via drone delivery.

Photo credit: Zipline

The delivery network will be active 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making drone deliveries to 2,000 health facilities, which serve some twelve million people throughout the country.

Deliveries will be made from four distribution centers, each of which will have 30 drones. Each center has the capacity to make 500 delivery flights a day. Zipline estimates that actual daily delivery counts could be as high as 600 in total.

This launch has been timed to coincide with World Immunization Week, and was celebrated yesterday at an inaugural ceremony in the Ghanian city of Omenako, where the first four drone distribution centers in the country are located.

We must do everything within our means to ensure that each and every citizen of Ghana has access to the quality healthcare they deserve. That’s why Ghana is launching the world’s largest drone delivery service.

– Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana

In making these deliveries, Zipline will be using one of the fastest delivery drones in the world, their fixed-wing autonomous UAV, which can fly 99 miles, go up to 75 mph, carry about four pounds, and operate in heavy winds, rain, and high altitudes.

Details about the Ghanian Delivery Network

Zipline has been on the forefront of medical drone deliveries for years now—when you visit their website you see a scrollbar that counts a total of 13,099 lifesaving deliveries made by drone, and counting.

Their new country-wide network in Ghana will enable the delivery of mass immunizations, which will help prevent fatal and debilitating diseases, and presents one of the most impressive instances of drones being used for good in the world.

Zipline Ghana Map

Through Ghana’s Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), Zipline will be supported in distributing vaccines for Yellow Fever, Polio, Measles & Rubella, Meningitis, Pneumococcal, Diphtheria, and Tetanus, among others.

The vaccines will be provided by Gavi, an international organization that helps save children’s lives and protect people’s health by increasing the equitable use of vaccines in lower-income countries.

Zipline has proven to be a quick, efficient partner to countries interested in developing and implementing medical drone deliveries—plans for the Ghana drone delivery network were first announced just five months ago, in December of 2018, when the government of Ghana signed a $12 million dollar deal with Zipline for the design, installation, and operation of UAVs for medical deliveries within the country.

Drone Deliveries on the Rise in the U.S.

Back at the end of 2018 we speculated that the strides being made on the medical drone delivery front by companies like Zipline and Matternet might help create a path forward for commercial drone deliveries. Lately, it appears this prediction is coming true.

Photo credit: Matternet

In recent months we’ve seen the FAA issue several significant approvals for drone deliveries in the U.S., all related to companies involved in the UAS IPP (UAS Integration Pilot Program), a federal program created to test different types of drone operations prohibited by the FAA’s Part 107 rules.

Last month Flirtey was given permission to begin making medical drone deliveries in Reno, NV; earlier this month Matternet received approval to make “routine revenue” drone deliveries on the WakeMed hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina; and just a few days ago Wing Aviation was awarded the first air carrier certification ever given to a drone company, laying down the legal groundwork for them to begin regular commercial drone deliveries in the U.S.

Zipline is also a UAS IPP partner in North Carolina’s pilot program, the same one that recently helped Matternet obtain permission to begin making regular routine revenue drone deliveries. (Flytrex is the third private company in the N.C. UAS IPP partnership.)

While Zipline continues to expand its international presence through impressive, sophisticated networks such as the one just announced in Ghana, we expect to see them begin drone deliveries here in the U.S. before too long as well.

What do you think—are you excited about Zipline’s drone delivery network in Ghana? And will Zipline’s next big launch be made here in the U.S.? Chime in on this thread in the UAV Coach community forum to share your thoughts.

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