In 2013, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicted that Prime Air, the company’s recently announced drone delivery unit, would be flying within four to five years. A decade later, the service seems no closer to reality than it was in 2018. However, some drone startups have been more successful. Among them is Zipline, which says it is on track to complete around 1 million deliveries by the end of the year. By 2025, the company hopes to operate more flights than most airlines, a feat it aims to achieve thanks to its next-generation drone, the Platform 2, or P2 Zip.
Zipline’s latest drone consists of two autonomous vehicles that will work in unison to deliver packages weighing up to 8 pounds. The first is a UAV that can complete a 10-mile flight in about 10 minutes. When it reaches its destination, P2 Zip will hover about 300 feet above the ground and deploy its companion, an adorable “fully autonomous delivery droid.” The latter descends from his counterpart using a leash (the company is called Zipline for a reason) and gently drops the package from him. According to Zipline, the P2 Zip is nearly silent in flight, producing a sound that the company says is similar to leaves rustling in the wind and accurate enough, thanks to its droid companion, to deliver packages in areas as small as tables. patio and steps. . Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo Cliffton said CNBC P2 Zip may even put a stop to porch pirates, as the drone is fast enough to allow for on-demand delivery.
For more distant deliveries, the P2 Zip can fly up to 24 miles one-way from dock to dock, charging at each docking station before completing the next leg of its journey and picking up new cargo. The drone charging station looks like something out of science fiction. It features a ramp for the delivery droid to enter the building the station is attached to, and what looks like a net to catch one of the drones if it falls. the company said CNBC Setting up a P2 Zip dock takes about as long as installing an electric vehicle charger. He envisions restaurants and hospitals installing the dock to allow quick delivery of food and prescriptions.
Zipline already has some customers eager to try the P2 Zip, including the Sweetgreen restaurant chain, Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, Michigan Medicine and Multicare Healthcare in Washington state. Before those companies gain access to the drone sometime next year, the startup plans to conduct more than 10,000 test flights with around 100 aircraft.