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Zipline Drone Delivery Expands to Deliver Medical Supplies in UK

The company is partnering with Apian to allow for timely, on-demand delivery of prescriptions and other medical products

Liz Hughes

December 19, 2023

2 Min Read
Zipline

Zipline is expanding its drone delivery services, teaming with U.K.-based health care logistics company Apian to expand medical supply deliveries to hospitals, doctors’ offices and care centers.

The program is expected to roll out next fall as part of the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and will allow for timely, on-demand delivery of prescriptions and other medical products. 

In September, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted Zipline approval to fly its delivery drones longer distances without visual observers to deliver commercial packages in the U.S. in Salt Lake City, Utah and Bentonville, Arkansas.  

Zipline’s Sparrow drone releases the packages using a parachute. Known as Zips, the drones have an onboard detection and avoidance system for continuous, real-time monitoring. 

“This expansion with Zipline and Apian is an exciting next step as we strive to improve services for the hundreds of thousands of patients we serve,” said Sir James Mackey, chief executive officer of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. “We believe this innovative technology could be used to improve healthcare outcomes, save money and eliminate supply chain complexities, and we're keen to get started."

Under the partnership, Zipline will centralize inventory of frequently ordered products and deliver them to Hexham General Hospital, Wansbeck General Hospital, Haltwhistle War Memorial Hospital and regional health facilities within minutes of getting the order, serving 30 facilities across the region, saving time and money. 

Related:FAA Approves Zipline Drones for Long-Distance Deliveries

“Today 3,000-pound gas vehicles driven by humans are used to deliver 3-pound packages billions of times per year,” said Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, CEO and co-founder of Zipline. “It’s expensive, slow and bad for the environment,” said. “This decision means that the NHS can start to transition delivery to solutions that are ten times as fast, less expensive, and zero emission. This service will be delivered at a fraction of the cost of the existing solution and will help drive financial savings to the NHS in the longer term."

Founded in 2014, Zipline’s first customer was the government of Rwanda, which used the service to deliver blood, medication and other health supplies to clinics and hospitals throughout the country.

About the Author(s)

Liz Hughes

Editor, IoT World Today, IoT World Today

Liz Hughes is an award-winning digital media editor with more than two decades of experience in newspaper, magazine and online media industries. 

A proven digital media strategist and editor, Liz has produced content and offered editorial support and leadership for a variety of web publications, including Fast Company, NBC Boston, Street Fight, QuinStreet, WTWH Media, AOL/Patch Media and Design News.

A skilled social media strategist experienced in developing and maintaining an audience across multiple platforms and brands, Liz also enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise to help businesses small and large.

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