CONCEPT

Zipline has launched the world’s fastest commercial drone, with a top speed of 128km an hour. Previously, the company created a national drone system, delivering blood and drugs to medical centres in Rwanda. Now it is focusing on “beyond-line-of-sight operations,” which means drones can no longer be seen from the ground by a human minder – something the US government is reportedly considering. Zipline’s drones have already flown at 300,000 kilometers in over 4,000 flights since its service started in October 2016. Its new drones can also carry greater weights – up to 1.75 kilograms on a round trip of up to 160km.

HOW THEY’RE DISRUPTING

This company is leading the way in drone innovation – especially in flying emergency medical goods which can save lives. As well as improved drones, it has revamped its distribution centers where drones are stored and loaded, and uses computer-vision technology to assist with pre-flight checks. These changes have slashed the time between receiving an order and getting a drone into the air from 10 minutes to just one. A streamlined launch-and-recovery system plus more and faster drones means that Zipline will now be able to manage 500 flights a day out of a single centre, compared with 50 previously.

DISRUPTION POTENTIAL

The world drone market is estimated to be worth $127 billion by 2020.

INVESTMENTS AND FUTURE

The company has received $41 million in funding and has signed partnerships with several health-care systems in the US, with hopes to have projects up and running by the end of the year.