Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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59 unmanned systems inside August/September 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. they need it. It's a more-efficient use of these supplies, and brings down costs." One hiccup that Zipline experienced in- volved their planes getting stuck in customs in Addis Ababa during a state of emergen- cy in Ethiopia, Hamilton recalled. When Zipline finally got the UAS and put one in the air, "it needed to make an emergency land- ing," he said. "We realized what happened was that some of the bonding and compo- nents got affected during shipping. We of- ten outsourced small things at the time, and our solution was to in-source them, to build them ourselves." Zipline's Plans Zipline's first base currently makes deliveries every day. "Sometimes we have up to 50 f lights a day," Hamilton said. Within the next year, Zipline aims to open a second base in Rwanda to serve the eastern half of the country. "All of Rwanda's 11 million citizens will be within reach of our on-demand, life-sav- ing medical services," Hamilton said. Quick aerial delivery of blood could help people far beyond Rwanda. For instance, when it comes to postpartum hemorrhaging—poten- tially lethal blood loss after childbirth—"the United States leads the industrialized world in postpartum hemorrhaging deaths," Hamilton said. "We're dealing with a problem across both the developed world and developing world, and Rwanda is helping develop a cutting-edge solu- tion to this problem." Currently Zipline's contract with Rwanda only involves delivery of blood and blood prod- ucts. "We do plan to expand to offer other criti- cal lifesaving medicines, such as antimalari- als, vaccines and AIDS and HIV medications," Hamilton said. Zipline has also explored developing a mo- bile distribution center "that could be shipped out in two cargo containers, so a base can be set up very quickly in emergency or humani- tarian situations," Hamilton said. "That's still something we're thinking about, but right now our focus is on establishing permanent bases within countries to serve national populations on an ongoing daily basis." Meanwhile, "we're developing a new itera- tion of the aircraft about every four months," Hamilton said. "We're in a constant process of improvement with the batteries and the f light times and speeds." " AS FAR AS WE KNOW, WE ARE BUILDING THE FIRST INTENTIONALLY ONE-WAY DRONE. BY NOT WORRYING ABOUT WHETHER THE DRONE WILL FLY BACK, WE CAN EFFECTIVELY DOUBLE THE DISTANCE IT CAN TRAVEL." Rob Forrester, business development manager, Windhorse One-way UAS Instead of building unmanned aircraft that airdrop small packages of emergency supplies in round-trip f lights, Windhorse seeks to de- velop the Pouncer UAS, which delivers large amounts of such necessities with one-way journeys. "As far as we know, we are building the first intentionally one-way drone," said Rob Forrester, business development manager at Windhorse. "By not worrying about whether the drone will f ly back, we can effectively dou- ble the distance it can travel." The idea for the Pouncer came when Windhorse founder Nigel Gifford and his col- leagues were looking for a new project to un- dertake. In 2014, they sold their Ascenta proj- ect to Facebook for roughly $20 million. The aim of that solar-powered UAS, now renamed Aquila, is to stay at high altitudes for weeks to months at a time to supply wireless Internet access for those in remote areas. A lthough Gif ford's background includ- ed aeronautical engineering, he was also trained as a chef by his restaurateur father and had worked for years in the British Army Catering Corps. These experiences combined for his latest project, which not only could UPDATE: As Inside Unmanned Systems went to press we learned that Zipline is set to announce its expansion to a second country.

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