BusinessWe are engineers from Zipline and today we made 17 lifesaving deliveries by drone in Rwanda. We fly through rain and wind to 8+ hospitals across the country. Ask us anything!
Jun 22nd 2017 by zipline_ryan • 11 Questions • 3666 Points
Day 2 and we're still live! Keep the questions coming!
We are Zipline , the world's first drone delivery service operating at national scale. A lot of folks claim to do crazy things, but we're a bit different because we really are doing crazy things.
We've been making real deliveries since last October. We've made several thousand flights in Rwanda, delivering real blood to real patients at eight different hospitals across the country. We've built have an awesome team running flights seven days a week, well into the night. Just today, we made 17 blood deliveries, including one delivery to each of the 8 hospitals we serve!
Our engineering and business team here in the U.S. is located on a cattle ranch overlooking the Pacific Ocean where we also do all of our test flights.
We take a pretty different approach than most companies when it comes to tackling seemingly-impossible problems. We're here today because we think we're working on something pretty special and not that many people know about it.
Joining us today, I've peeled away some folks to answer all of your questions.
- Abdoul (AbdoulSalam) leads our Distribution Center in Rwanda. He's a hacker, tinkerer, and work-horse. One of the smartest Rwandans you've ever met! (It's also the middle of the night for Abdoul right now - thanks for staying up!)
- Alain (zipline_alain) is a fellow Redditor and software engineer. He's built an ordering system that is simpler than checking out on most sites, yet works over WhatsApp, phone, or web when the Internet decides to work.
- Jeremy (jdschw) designs our automated air traffic control. He enables fleets of our Zips to fly together, safely.
- Ciara (zipline_ciara) runs recruiting, has the sweetest pitbull (Sarge!), and will climb any rock she finds.
- Lastly, I'm Ryan (zipline_ryan), I lead the software team and spend a lot of time thinking about what the future looks like.
We'll be here taking your questions starting at 4:30p PDT (7:30p EDT) and we'll stay as long as you've got questions! And, we're live! Ready to take your questions.
Building reliable roads, especially in the "land of a thousand hills" aka Rwanda, is a long and expensive process. With Zips, we can reliably transport life-saving medical supplies without this infrastructure.
The problem was pretty clear and we thought technology could solve it. I'm pretty motivated by the clear positive impact we're having.
Programmer here. Can you tell me a bit about what tech you use in your planes? What OS on your aircraft? What programming languages do you use? What hardware?
We've built our own avionics with our own autopilot. Our Zips (planes) are designed to be crazy reliable. So we've got 11 microcontrollers, with redundant processors for flight critical computation. And we use C on the plane, plus C++/Python on the ground.