Zipline deploys medical delivery drones with U.S. Military

Zipline, a drone-delivery startup announced it’s testing medical supply drones with US military. Zipline, which already delivers emergency medical supplies in Rwanda and Ghana, is testing drone flights with the U.S. Department of Defense. Between July and September, Zipline partnered with the DoD and Naval Medical Research Center to deploy its drones during four multinational military forces exercises in Australia.

Zipline deploys medical delivery drones with U.S. Military Zipline flew 227 sorties in a variety of conditions and showcased its swarming ability in response to frontline mass casualty events (Picture source: Zipline)

During multinational forces exercises with the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the Australian Defense Force (ADF), Zipline successfully forward-deployed to Australia to pilot its life-saving UAS technology.

According to Zipline, the deployment sought to showcase how its logistics network of autonomous delivery UAS could help transform emergency medicine and critical care in conflict, as well as in humanitarian and disaster relief scenarios.

“The U.S. military is one of the largest providers of life-saving health care and critical aid in conflict, humanitarian and disaster relief scenarios around the world. Zipline is proud to partner with the Defense Department because our goal is to get people the care they need to stay healthy and alive no matter where they are in the world and no matter the circumstances,” says Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo.

Part of a collaborative effort between Zipline, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), and the Naval Medical Research Center’s Naval Advanced Medical Development (NMRC-NAMD), the medical drone delivery exercises provided the military the opportunity to evaluate how UAS technology could instantly deliver critical and life-saving supplies during combat.

“DIU makes it possible for cutting-edge, civilian technology companies like Zipline to serve our country, which is a privilege,” Rinaudo says. “We look forward to continuing working with them.”

Last year, Zipline, DIU and NMRC-NAMD began looking into how UAS delivery could transform critical care in forward-deployed environments. This work resulted in the DoD asking Zipline to demonstrate its ability to “rapidly deploy, build, and operate” its instant drone delivery and logistics technology to an austere environment on an undisclosed military facility in the Western U.S.

Zipline flew 227 sorties in a variety of conditions and showcased its swarming ability in response to frontline mass casualty events.

As part of the exercise, Zipline completed a 79-mile round trip delivery flight at an average speed of 64 miles per hour. This is the longest-range commercial drone delivery flight in U.S. history, the company says.

Following its successful demonstration during the U.S. exercise, Zipline was asked to forward deploy in the field and integrate its service with a Marine Air-Ground Task Force for operational testing during multinational exercises between the U.S. and Australian militaries in Australia between late July and early September.

Over the course of four multinational force exercises, Zipline demonstrated its ability to help save lives in austere and tactical emergency environments using its instant drone delivery capability.

Zipline conducted more than 400 deliveries, which included mock blood resupplies to forward deployed Shock Trauma Platoons, responding to simulated mass casualty events, and delivering 150 pounds of cargo in under three hours.

“We hope to continue working with the Department of Defense to help actively train military personal on the best ways to use this technology as we prepare for the day it may be sent to the front lines to help save lives,” Rinaudo says.