5 April 2018

Rwanda: Zipline Introduces Faster Drone Model

Photo: Village Urugwiro/The New Times
President Kagame with officials from Zipline Inc. at the launch of medical delivery drones in Muhanga District.

Zipline Inc, a California-based robotics firm which operates delivery of blood supplies to remote areas in Rwanda, has developed the fastest commercial delivery drone, it said.

The new model, which the firm says has a top speed of about 128km per hour, is set to improve the efficiency of local deliveries and help the first venture into new markets.

The development was announced on Wednesday on the firm's social media platforms, with the firm saying the technology has been in the works for about one and a half years now with view to scaling up their initial model.

Keller Rinaudo, the firm's chief executive said on twitter the new model will enable the American firm make up to 500 deliveries a day, up from the current 50 a day.

"Our first gen system has made over 4,000 deliveries in Rwanda covering over 300,000km and delivering over 7,000 units of blood. This new system incorporates all the hard lessons learned along the way," the firm said.

The development comes at a time when the company, which delivers supplies from its droneport in Muhanga District, has been mulling extending their operations to all parts of the country as well as opening similar operations in neighbouring Tanzania.

Details on when the new drone model would start to operate were not immediately available.

The firm started in Rwanda operations - the first such service in the health sector anywhere in the world - in 2016.

The operations have since been covering Southern and Western provinces.

In January, the Government liberalised the country's skies for commercial drones.

The move is expected to attract more investors in the Unmanned Civil Aircraft System (UAS) industry.

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