Drones From Bay Area Startup to Deliver Vaccines in Africa
A Bay Area robotics startup plans to use drones to deliver vaccines and blood for transfusions to hard-to-reach areas of Rwanda — with some help from UPS.
The shipping giant’s charitable organization, the UPS Foundation, has awarded an $800,000 grant to Zipline International of Half Moon Bay and vaccine distribution organization Gavi to start the drone project in July. The companies announced the partnership Monday.
With drones, “it does not matter if there are washed out roads, washed out bridges, jungles or mountains in the way,” Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo told reporters Thursday before demonstrating how the company’s computer-controlled drones take off, drop packages by parachute and return.
Amazon, Walmart and Google have generated attention-grabbing headlines and a fair amount of skepticism by announcing plans to use hovering quadcopter drones to deliver packages to customers.
But the 2-year-old Zipline is quietly building a fleet of fixed-wing, airplane-style drones that can fly to remote locations in countries where motorcycle or truck deliveries can be difficult.