World's first drone delivery service launches

The service is operated by Zipline, a US robotics and drone company

World's first drone delivery service launches

Image: Don McCullough via Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0

The world's first commercial drone delivery service has launched in Rwanda.

The service, operated by US robotics giant Zipline, is delivering blood parcels on parachutes outside remote health centers, according to Quartz Africa. 

Rwanda’s government pays Zipline for the deliveries, each of which costs about the same as the motorbike deliveries used previously, according to Keller Rinaudo, Zipline’s CEO.

Health workers can request a blood drop via text message, and it arrives around 30 minutes later.

For now, Zipline will make between 50 and 150 deliveries per day to 21 clinics in the western half of the country. There are also plans to expand into other medical areas such as vaccines. Gavi, a public-private partnership which promotes vaccination, is partnering with UPS and Zipline on the research.

Laws around commercial drone use continue to tighten, particularly in Africa. In January 2015, Kenya banned commercial drone use over growing fears about terror threats. Ghana wants all drones registered and licensed, and is threatening prison sentences for anyone who doesn’t follow the guidelines.

In August, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration put new rules into effect regulating the commercial use of drones.

The Part 107 rules require that drones used for business purposes in the U.S. must be registered with the FAA operated only during daylight hours and at up to 400 feet above ground, generally, and at a speed of up to 100 miles per hour.