Zipline, arguably the world's largest drone delivery service for medical supplies which was founded in Rwanda has announced a partnership with Toyota Tsusho Corporation, a member of the Toyota Group.
This will see the Zipline model rolled out in Japan, delivering medical supplies to even remote parts of the country.
While the firm is owned by American investors, the concept was first tested in Rwanda before being rolled out in other countries.
The firm which covers about 260 health centres in Rwanda with an aim to reach 700 made a name and caught international headlines by becoming the first firm to deliver critical medical supplies on demand using drones.
One of the Zipline drones drops supplies . The Zipline is arguably the world's largest drone delivery service for medical supplies. Photo: File.
In recent years, the model has been replicated in countries like Ghana and is in demand in many other countries including the United States.
The partnership with Toyota Tsusho will begin by looking at delivery options of pharmaceutical supplies and other critical medical supplies to remote areas, including islands - with an eye to eventually expanding to other use-case scenarios.
Toyota Tsusho had previously made investments in Zipline.
Masato Yamanami, CEO for Automotive Division of Toyota Tsusho said that they first invested in Zipline in 2018 out of the belief of their technology and impact in healthcare.
"We first invested in Zipline three years ago because we strongly believe their technology has the power to reimagine how health systems deliver care to people around the world. Zipline's model has proven systematic impact, and we are thrilled to bring that same innovation to support the communities of Japan," he said.
Commenting on the development Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline said that the partnership with Toyota Tsusho is the first step towards delivering to more than 120 million people in Japan.
"Our mission at Zipline is to provide every human on earth with instant access to vital medical supplies. This partnership with Toyota Tsusho is the first step in delivering on that promise for the more than 120 million people in Japan. We live in a time where equal access to medicine has never been more urgent and imperative, and our two teams share a commitment to finding new ways to help solve the problem," he said.
This will be different from Zipline's previous ventures with Toyota Tsusho to run the operation and distribution center, using Zipline's aircraft and system.
This partnership follows Toyota Tsusho's investment in Zipline in June 2018 and is part of the company's NEXT Technology strategy intended to support new innovation in mobility.
Toyota Tsusho was founded in 1948 and is the trading company of the Toyota group. It operates in more than 120 countries.