Today: Apr 16, 2024

Pizza and Meds Flying High Courtesy of Drone Startup Thrill.

4 months ago

Zipline, a drone startup based in San Francisco, has completed more than 800,000 deliveries using drones powered by NVIDIA robotics in seven countries. The company’s services, which include delivering goods for Pagliacci Pizza, supplement retailer GNC, and various health systems, have recently been expanded. To automatically navigate and make precision landings, Zipline developed its drones using the NVIDIA Jetson edge AI and robotics platform. The company is a part of NVIDIA Inception, a program that helps startups with technical support and AI platform guidance.

  • Zipline has a valuation of more than $4 billion and has secured $330 million in backing.
  • The company’s P1 drone, which has been in production for seven years, uses the Jetson Xavier NX system-on-module to process sensor inputs. It is guided by GPS, air traffic control communications, inertial measurement unit sensors, and its onboard detection and avoidance system.
  • Zipline’s P2, a hybrid drone, utilizes two Jetson Orin NX modules: one for sensor fusion to understand environments and the other for added safety.
  • The company currently completes one delivery every 70 seconds globally.
  • More efficient than vehicle deliveries by seven times, the company’s drones can deliver faster, thanks to their ability to fly at 70mph.

The company delivers goods for a growing customer base which includes well-known entities such as Walmart, Sweetgreen, Michigan Medicine, MultiCare Health Systems, and Intermountain Health. Zipline also delivers to over 4,000 hospitals and health centers, as well as carrying out deliveries for the Rwandan government. Originally starting with delivering blood in Rwanda, Zipline has since branched out into food and convenience delivery.

In addition to the convenience and speed of drone delivery, using drones powered by NVIDIA Jetson Orin modules also carries environmental benefits. Deliveries made by Zipline result in a 97% decrease in carbon emissions compared to those made by gasoline-driven vehicles. This is largely attributed to the use of electric-driven autonomous machines, which are replacing those that contribute to pollution. Achieving such energy efficiency is key for autonomous machines, as it directly influences the run-time of these devices.

The technology provided by NVIDIA Jetson Orin modules enables startups to make a significant contribution to sustainability efforts. According to Zipline’s head of engineering, Joseph Mardall, the energy efficiency of electric aircraft can be effectively harnessed for payload and range, impact that is significant for the environment in terms of significantly reducing carbon emissions.