Science fiction movies have long predicted that the future will involve things being delivered via drone (think: the pizza drone in Ready Player One), and now, that future may be closer to reality than ever.
A California-based company called Zipline has developed a fleet of autonomous delivery drones, which could revolutionize the way that products are brought to our doorsteps.
Crucially, as much of our delivery services are conducted by gas-powered vehicles, Zipline deliveries could drastically reduce the carbon pollution caused by the industry. Each Zipline flight produces up to 98% less pollution than an equivalent delivery conducted by a dirty energy-powered car or truck.
Zipline’s drones are even more efficient than electric delivery vehicles, which some companies, and even the U.S. Postal Service, are pivoting toward in an attempt to cause less environmental harm.
“Over the last decade, global demand for instant delivery has skyrocketed, but the technology we’re using to deliver is 100 years old,” Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo Cliffton told Electrek. “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.”
Zipline’s drones, called “Zips,” work by flying at an altitude of over 300 feet and then dropping down a tether near its precise location that steers it to the exact spot it needs to go. A Zip can complete a 10-mile delivery in approximately 10 minutes, carrying six to eight pounds.
Zipline is currently operating in the United States, Rwanda, Japan, Nigeria, and Ghana, and the company is planning to expand into Kenya and Côte D’Ivoire. So far, it has delivered over five million items and counting, and it expects to hit a million total delivery trips by the end of 2023.
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