Startup News: Zipline launches latest drone design

Logistics startup Zipline is generating plenty of buzz following a demonstration last week of its latest commercial drone, which the company hopes will make rapid aerial deliveries an everyday convenience for retail customers throughout the U.S.

The San Francisco-based company says that the new drone, dubbed the P2 Zip, is capable of carrying up to eight pounds worth of cargo within a ten-mile radius, and can land a package on a space as small as a table or doorstep. Moreover, the company can make these deliveries even in densely populated urban areas.

The P2 Zip can travel ten miles in ten minutes, and the company can make a delivery approximately seven times faster than any typical service you may order from today, according to Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, Zipline’s chief executive officer.

While Zipline’s original drone, the P1 Zip, features a fixed wing or glider-like design, P2 employs both lift and cruise propellers and a fixed wing, the company announced. These help it maneuver precisely and quietly, even in rainy or windy weather.

Zipline announced that it plans to test P2 Zip deliveries with a variety of retail partners, including healthy fast-casual restaurant Sweetgreen, Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, Michigan Medicine, Multicare Healthcare System in Tacoma, Washington, and the government of Rwanda.

An article in UAS Weekly, a trade publication that covers the commercial drone industry, said that Sweetgreen is partnering with Zipline to further its mission of connecting people to “real food in the U.S., while moving a step closer to its pledge to be carbon-neutral by 2027.” By ordering through Zipline’s marketplace, Sweetgreen customers can potentially get their orders using 97% less energy than traditional automotive methods.

Since its founding in 2012, Zipline – whose last known valuation in June 2021 was $2.75 billion – has flown more than 38 million miles with its autonomous electric delivery drones. According to CNBC, Zipline put its first fleet to work in Rwanda, delivering blood and other health supplies to clinics and hospitals. Since then, the Silicon Valley startup has expanded its services in six other countries, with limited delivery service and distribution centers in three states.

Among the investors that have financed Zipline are Fidelity, Intercorp, and Emerging Capital Partners.

About the Author

John Kimelman is a veteran journalist who has worked at Barron’s and CNBC covering such topics as investing and commercial banking. Mr. Kimelman has received compensation from Forge Global, Inc. for authoring this article. Read more from John.

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