Making Instant Deliveries Across Rwanda

Partnering with the Government of Rwanda, Zipline serves 21 hospitals nation-wide. We provide instant access to lifesaving blood products for 8 million Rwandans.

October 2016: Open for Business

Zipline Muhanga Distribution Center, Zipline's first operational site, launched in October 2016, beginning service to Kabgayi District Hospital.

This made Rwanda the first country to integrate drones into their airspace and to begin daily operations of autonomous delivery.

We built a passionate team of Rwandan engineers, health technicians, and operators to receive orders, pack blood products, and fly the fleet.

Working closely with the Ministry of Health, we trained hospital technicians and doctors how to order blood products through Zipline and how to make use of this radically new delivery service.

Kabgayi District Hospital quickly came to order multiple orders per day.

We learned how to communicate as a team split between California and Eastern Africa while making the product better every single day.


Early 2017: Scaling Nationally

Zipline Muhanga has been scaling to serve twenty one hospitals spanning across Western Rwanda with magically fast access to lifesaving medicines.

As of May 2017, we've completed over 350 delivery flights to real hospitals and our pace is accelerating. We're on track to become Rwanda's busiest airport in summer 2017.

@Yonnocko @zipline Emergency order being loaded into next Zip, about to launch pic.twitter.com/Z9lmGm9fly

— Keller Rinaudo (@KellerRinaudo) April 22, 2017

Another successful @Zipline launch in beautiful #Rwanda! Wish you could be in this photo? Click here --> https://t.co/YEEYnVF2PA pic.twitter.com/FGUWMV5hmB

— Zipline (@zipline) January 6, 2017

Rain or Shine

Rwanda puts our fleet to the test. From tropical rainstorms to hilly high-altitude terrain, Rwanda is not exactly an easy place to get around. Yet Zipline continues to operate through any weather Eastern Africa throws at us.

Getting dark here, rain, we're an hour from closing. Orders are still pouring in. Doctors are busy today, and it's an honor to serve them pic.twitter.com/v4Wz8gvDUC

— Keller Rinaudo (@KellerRinaudo) April 22, 2017

First flight of the morning. A zip is flying through torrential rainstorm to get blood to the farthest away hospital we serve. pic.twitter.com/OSLloq5CQq

— Keller Rinaudo (@KellerRinaudo) April 24, 2017

April 2017: 12 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week

Our Distribution Center started with Monday-to-Friday operating hours. Demand was high and emergencies don't wait.

So by April, we had grown our team to stay open every day of the week. Plus, our airplanes fly just as well once the sun has gone down, so hospitals can now rely on us further into the night.


The Hospitals

The hospitals we serve range from tiny villages to remote cities hours outside the capital. The path to each can be quite challenging, with towering mountain ranges and seasonal rivers. Zipline flies over this challenging terrain and is able to reach Muhororo District Hospital in 17 minutes, while a truck would have to take a four hour journey by road to pick up blood.


Landing Without a Runway

Our Distribution Center fits on a small plot of land. We take off in a short distance using a powerful launcher. To recover efficiently, we needed to solve a much harder problem. Inspired by aircraft carrier landings, our recovery system bobs up and down to catch the deployed tailhook of an airplane as it fights turbulence. This system allows us to capture in a small area, and if we miss, the plane just flies around again.


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