Zipline is a California-based company that manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles or drones that deliver small medical equipment and life-saving medicines to hard-to-reach locations. The company was founded in 2011. Zipline is a vertically integrated company, which means that the company produces not only drones, but navigation software, including take-off and landing functions. The company’s drones can perform logistic flights up to 160 km, reaching speeds of up to 100 km / h, and delivering parcels weighing up to 1.5 kg. Unlike its competitors, Zipline has been focused on humanitarian causes since its inception.
The company’s unmanned aerial vehicle service is best known for its urgent medical delivery services to remote parts of Africa, especially Rwanda, although the company also operates in Ghana and Nigeria. In 2016, Zipline raised $ 25 million in Round B to expand its humanitarian drone delivery business in Rwanda. In Rwanda, many roads are impassable during the rainy season, but drones can deliver essential medical supplies by air to almost any hospital. Zipline has also partnered with Ghana’s Ministry of Health to expand its geographic coverage domestically. Thus, the logistics network will now be able to cover the needs of 90% of the country’s population.
The company’s activities are not limited to Africa. In March, Zipline partnered with Toyota Tshuou to supply medical supplies to isolated parts of Japan. In September last year, Zipline entered into an agreement with Walmart to supply drugs within the United States. Zipline has also signed an agreement with Pfizer to supply vaccines to hard-to-reach areas in the United States. To date, Zipline has flown over 150,000 commercial flights and delivered over 2 million doses of vaccine, covering more than 16 million kilometers worldwide. The company said it plans to deliver 2.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year.
Since 2011, the company has been able to raise $ 488 million. In the last investment round of Series E, which took place at the end of June, the company raised $ 250 million. Zipline was valued at $ 2.75 billion. New investors were Fidelity, Intercorp, Emerging Capital Partners, Reinvent Capital, Baillie Gifford, Temasek and Katalyst Ventures. Zipline plans to use the proceeds to scale its activities, geographic expansion and improve the logistics system.
Zipline is currently in talks with the Federal Aviation Administration to move from a pandemic emergency service to full commercial certification. An important competitive advantage of the company is that during its activity, Zipline has made a thousand safe flights, which confirms the reliability of unmanned aerial vehicles. Zipline is likely to become one of the first drone delivery companies in the United States to achieve full regulatory certification. It is possible that in the long term the company can expand the range of provided logistics services, but in the near future the company’s activities will be focused on the delivery of medicines.
The potential for an increase in the drone delivery market is very large. Growth will be supported by increased demand for fast delivery, improved legislation to encourage drone delivery, and growing interest in carbon reduction issues amid the relevance of the ESG agenda. According to research by ResearchAndMarkets.com, the drone delivery market will grow from $ 528 million in 2020 to $ 39 billion by 2030. This brings the CAGR over the ten-year period 2020–2030 to nearly 54%.