California-based company Zipline has revolutionized package delivery with its latest innovation: the Platform 2 (P2) drone delivery system. The P2 system features self-steering droids that replace the parachute drops utilized in previous iterations. This technological advancement aims to enhance precision and efficiency in the rapidly growing drone delivery industry.
The P2 delivery process begins with a worker placing a cargo item inside a droid, a streamlined box equipped with a shrouded propeller at the rear. At a docking station, the droid is then loaded into a Zipline P2 Zip eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) drone. Once secured, the drone takes off and flies to the destination address, maintaining an altitude of at least 300 ft (91 m) throughout the journey.
Upon arrival, the P2 Zip hovers in place and lowers the droid using a retractable tether. The droid’s downward-facing camera and onboard sensors allow it to identify its target landing area, such as a home’s front steps. Activating its propeller, the droid compensates for factors like crosswinds and accurately lands on the designated spot. The recipient can then open the hatch, retrieve their item, and the droid is winched back up to the drone, which returns to its starting point.
However, there are certain limitations to the P2 system. It is designed to carry loads weighing no more than 8 lb (3.6 kg) and has an out-and-back service radius of 10 miles (16 km). For drones flying directly between loading stations, where they can recharge their battery packs, the range extends to 24 miles (39 km).
Several corporate clients have already signed up for Zipline’s P2 drone delivery service, illustrating the demand for this cutting-edge technology. Michigan Medicine, MultiCare Health System, and Salt Lake City’s Intermountain Health plan to use the service for prescription deliveries. The Government of Rwanda, an existing Zipline client, will utilize the P2 system for deliveries to homes, hotels, and healthcare facilities. Furthermore, grocery chain Sweetgreen intends to employ the service for home deliveries of groceries.
Zipline’s P2 drone delivery service, with its self-steering droids, marks a significant leap in the field of drone technology and package delivery. As more clients adopt the service, the P2 system could become a benchmark for the future of efficient and precise delivery solutions. This innovation not only demonstrates the potential of drone technology but also sets the stage for further advancements in the industry.
Check out the video below to see the Platform 2 system in action: