Zipline Uses Drones to Deliver Medical Supplies in Remote Places in Africa

A bigger percentage of road infrastructures in Africa often wash out every year whereas some are dilapidated. This almost hinders the people in some of the African developing countries from the access of medical assistance and supplies when they need them most. However, a move to overcome traditional modes of transportation has already commenced by Zipline. This is a Silicon Valley startup that has been operating delivery drones in Rwanda. They can fly blood bags platelets, plasma as well as red blood cells important for transfusion, and other medical supplies using drones to health facilities in remote areas. Hitherto this venture by Zipline, medical workers would have to drive for hours to the nearest blood bank and make it back, subject to the state of the roads they are using.


Zipline launched the program in 2016 and has covered more than 100,000 kilometers in Rwanda, with 1400 flights and a delivery of 2600 blood units. The Tanzanian government has partnered with Zipline to launch what it termed as the world’s largest drone delivery network in 2018. The partnership will enable Zipline to establish four distribution centers that will cover between 10 million and 11 million people, which by approximation is only a quarter of the population. Zipline, whose headquarters Half Moon Bay, California dubbed its services in Rwanda as Uber for blood.


The Tanzanian government intends to increase deliveries to 2000 units per day. Zipline drones, which have so far reached 60,000, have been able to deliver medical supplies in areas where cars are unable to reach in time, or where the rainy seasons turn untarmacked roads in to mud, making them impassable. There are plans to have more upgraded drones with wingspans of 6-Foot and a speed of up to 70mph. This upgraded version will be able to carry 3 pounds of medical supplies to different areas within which they are operating.