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Zipline Begins Drone Deliveries in Salt Lake Valley

Zipline Drone Delivery Services Begin in Utah with Eye Towards Service Area Covering 1 Million Customers

Utah's Intermountain Healthcare has begun small medical parcel delivery service with UAV courier company Zipline.

Zipline will ramp up its Utah delivery system over the next 5 years to eventually provide service to more than 1 million people in the valley. The company notes that deliveries will be contingent upon a variety of flight conditions surrounding patient homes, since Zipline drones require the usual combination of open airspace, clear flight lines, and sufficient yard size for safe operation. From the outset, Zipline's services will be available surrounding the first distribution center, with additional facilities planned to expand community drop-off support and organization. 

The program has been an interesting turn for the drone delivery company, which has heretofore operated throughout more densely populated Eastern locales in the USA. Interested parties may see Zipline's gaze extend further westward should its operations weather the hot and high conditions of a mountainous Utah summer without issue. Like many other Zipline partners, Intermountain Healthcare intends to predominately ship prescriptions, OTC medications, or sufficiently compact medical adjuncts using their electric, fixed wing courier drones. The current iteration of their aircraft offer a 50-mile operational radius and flight through even marginal VFR conditions. Zipline says their drones can tackle "rain, wind, and extreme temperatures," without complaint while producing CO2 emissions drastically lower than a traditional ICE-powered aircraft. That's a considerable boon for the Intermountain Healthcare market. Emissions are of particular Concern in Salt Lake, a city often beset by winter inversions worsened by increased traffic loads every holiday season.

"This partnership allows us to reach patients faster than we ever thought possible, at a time that’s convenient for them,” said Gordon Slade, associate vice president of supply chain logistics at Intermountain Healthcare. “Combined with our telehealth services like Connect Care, it’s possible to virtually see a doctor and get medication you need delivered from Zipline, without having to travel to a clinic or the hospital.”

“Think back to the last time you had a doctor’s visit and then had to trek to the pharmacy for your prescription, making what can already be a time-consuming experience that much more draining, or the last time your child was ill and you had to pack the family in the car just to get cold medicine,” said Bijal Mehta, head of global fulfillment operations at Zipline. “Zipline and Intermountain Healthcare are working together to eliminate the burdens that make it harder to get the care you need when you need it. We believe instant delivery is a key element to the future of healthcare and we are excited to bring our service to the Salt Lake City area to make people’s lives better, easier, and healthier.” 



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