Drones are going to the emergency room.
Through its latest partnership, drone delivery firm Zipline will airdrop medical supplies like lab samples, medications and test kits to hospitals, laboratories and doctors’ offices in Tacoma, Washington. Zipline will work with nonprofit organization MultiCare Health Systems, which operates a network of medical facilities in the area.
The arrangement aims to create an on-demand delivery model for MultiCare’s providers using electric, autonomous aircraft. Deliveries will begin in 2024, pending regulatory approvals. Once off the ground, the service will facilitate the first commercial drone deliveries in Washington.
“Making sure our providers have what they need, when they need it, is a critical part of providing affordable and accessible care to patients,” said Florence Chang, president of MultiCare. “We are always looking for like-minded partners who can help us improve the care we provide to the communities we serve in a sustainable and reliable way.”
Speed is obviously one benefit of the partnership. Bay Area-based Zipline promises deliveries in as little as 15 minutes, making it a good fit for urgent medical deliveries. Already, the company has proven its ability to deliver quickly with humanitarian aid missions in Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya and elsewhere.
But that’s only part of the value proposition. According to the World Economic Forum, urban last-mile delivery could have disastrous results on the environment if left unchecked. Drone delivery takes gas-guzzling, carbon-emitting vehicles off the road, reducing congestion and, in Zipline’s case, cutting emissions by upward of 96%.
Watch: Humanitarian Drone Deliveries
“Our instant delivery solution helps doctors create a better experience for their patients: no delays, missed appointments or unnecessary stress and hassle. At the same time, the health care system grows stronger, more reliable and more efficient,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline.
“In many parts of the world,” he added, “this solution is an integral, routine part of health care, and we’re proud to partner with MultiCare to bring the same standard to Washington.”
So far, Zipline has flown over 24 million miles and completed more than 335,000 deliveries across the U.S., Japan, Rwanda and Ghana. In the U.S., the company is partnered with Walmart and a long list of health care companies that includes Novant Health, Magellan Rx Management, Cardinal Health and Intermountain Healthcare.
Last month, the firm also received a historic certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. An FAA Part 135 air carrier certification granted it a delivery radius of up to 26 miles round trip — more expansive than any other drone firm operating in U.S. airspace.