Drone delivery provider Zipline is adding three new clients including health and wellness retailer GNC, pharmaceutical logistics firm Associated Couriers and Seattle-based eatery Pagliacci Pizza, expanding its footprint and building on its success delivering vaccines in Africa during the pandemic and working with retail giant Walmart.
Drone delivery technology, which has been growing rapidly with the easing of FAA regulations, touts its sustainability, cost savings, speed and convenience vs. ground vehicles. Drone delivery providers have also proliferated in recent years, including DroneUp and Flytrex – both also working domestically with Walmart – and UK-based Dronamics in Europe.
Zipline said it’s on track to reach the ambitious goal of 1 million deliveries worldwide by the end of 2023, having completed 600,000 to date on three continents. By 2025, Zipline states, it will be operating more flights than most major U.S. airlines. The company was founded in 2014 in San Francisco and made its first flights delivering blood in Rwanda in 2016.
GNC will begin delivering orders via drone within 20 minutes to customers in the Salt Lake City area using Zipline’s current Platform 1 system, following months of tests. GNC plans to expand drone service to a couple other U.S. markets next year using Zipline’s updated Platform 2. It’s currently being used by sweetgreen, Michigan Medicine, MultiCare Health Systems, Intermountain Health and the government of Rwanda.
Associated Couriers plans to utilize the service to bring prescription drugs to residents of Long Island, while Pagliacci pies will fly to Seattle residents.
“We are focused on building, testing, and fortifying innovation solutions that enable our business to support our consumers on their path to achieve their goals,” said Alan Chester, Chief Supply Chain Officer of GNC in a release. “This partnership with Zipline will enable GNC to quickly and efficiently deliver our incredible products to consumers to help them stick to wellness routines and Live Well.”
Zipline’s whisper-quiet Platform 2 drones can drop a delivery on an 18”x18” target on a porch, yard or sidewalk, and can travel 24 miles from dock to destination. It hovers 300 feet over the target while a droid slides down a tether to deliver the package.