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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57 unmanned systems inside August/September 2017 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. BY THE NUMBERS Delivery Zones • Zipline-Zip Aircraft Within 5 to 6 meters • Windhorse-Pouncer 7 to 10 meters. Source: Zipline and Windhorse "Everything we do, everything we build, is geared toward the mission of helping to save lives," Zipline spokesperson Justin Hamilton said. "The sense of mission is palpable, and motivates everybody." Both Wyrobek and Zipline co-founder Keller Rinaudo have backgrounds not just in robot- ics, but also in health, biology and wellness. "Keenan was one of the founders of Willow Garage, which helped develop the open-source Robot Operating System ROS, and prior to that, he built medical robotic devices for sur- gery, while Keller made robots on the consum- er end, and also built computers out of DNA," Hamilton said. Zipline has received $41 million in equity funding in eight rounds from 20 investors, including $25 million in November, accord- ing to startup database Crunchbase. Zipline has also received a $1.1 million grant from the UPS Foundation. "We provide them data so they can learn about drone delivery, and they provide mentorship on how to deliver packages on time," Wyrobek said. Setting Up Base After consulting with four countries around the world, Zipline opened up a base in Rwanda in October to serve the western half of that na- tion with 15 Zips. "The reason that Rwanda is first is because it's very data-focused in its decision-making processes," Wyrobek said. "It's focused on how investments made using data can improve its health system and save money." Zipline's distribution center safely stores blood and blood products such as plasma and platelets collected by the Rwandan national blood banks. So far this base services 11 clin- ics, and Zipline aims to serve a total of 21 by the end of the year, Hamilton said. "Scaling up service to each clinic requires intensive preparation," Hamilton said. "We have to map out routes, coordinate with civil and military aviation authorities so they'll know the exact routes they'll f ly in each and every instance, and know places for the planes to maintain holding patterns if neces- sary. We also have to train hospital staff on what to do when robots start dropping pack- ages from the sky, since it's not something that happens everyday. We also want to work with people in the community—in many parts of the world, when drones f ly overhead, they don't bring good tidings—so we want to work with communities so they'll know our planes are the equivalent of sky ambulances out to save someone's life." Parachuting Supplies To get medical supplies, health workers at remote clinics and hospitals text an order to Zipline. Zipline's distribution center then packages what they've requested in paper in- sulation to help it stay the right temperature during f light. A fully automated pref light test of the Zip's propulsion, control surfaces, communications equipment and other features ensure the drone is airworthy. The medical supplies and a new lithium-ion battery pack are then loaded on- board the 14-kilogram Zip. A catapult helps launch the Zip into the air and the health workers at the clinic or hospital receive conf irmation their order is on the way. The Zip f lies at speeds of up to 100 km/h, reaching its destination in 30 minutes on average, Hamilton said. "We have spectators almost ever y day, where people cheer the launches and the land- ings," Wyrobek said. " EVERYTHING WE DO REVOLVES AROUND DELIVERING MEDICAL PRODUCTS FROM WHERE THE PAVED ROADS END IN THESE COUNTRIES TO WHERE PEOPLE NEED THEM." Keenan Wyrobek, co-founder and head of product and engineering, Zipline

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