Zipline Soars in the Disruptor 50 with Drone Deliveries

, an ambitious drone delivery enterprise, has earned the 25th spot on CNBC's prestigious Disruptor 50 list this year. With operations spanning seven countries — Rwanda, Ghana, the US, Nigeria, , Kenya, and Côte D'Ivoire — the firm has made its mark in the global drone industry.

Zipline's journey began with a crucial mission: medical deliveries in Rwanda. Initiated in 2016, it significantly improved the national blood delivery network, slashing blood waste by as much as 67%, according to a Lancet study.

Today, the company's collaboration with Rwanda has broadened. Under a new $61 million contract, it aims to deliver nearly two million packages of medicine, medical supplies, nutrition, and animal health products by 2029.

The unveiling of Zipline's latest drone, the P2 Zip, in March, marked a leap beyond the medical sector. This new drone is designed to deliver up to eight pounds within a ten-mile radius, completing missions in approximately ten minutes, and precision landing on a space as small as a table or doorstep.

“The reason that number is important is that when you look at e-commerce in the U.S., a vast majority of packages weigh five pounds or less,” Keller Rinaudo Cliffton, Zipline's CEO and co-founder, told CNBC recently.

The company's expansion into retail and its broader reach across the US didn't happen overnight. As early as 2020, Zipline began testing drone deliveries with retail giant in . This year, with help from Zipline and other partners, such as DroneUP, Walmart announced that it expanded its drone delivery network to 36 hubs across seven states, , Arkansas, , North Carolina, , Utah and Virginia, recording 6,000 flights.

In addition to the retail segment, Zipline has forged partnerships with medical providers in the US, conducting long-range medical drone flights in challenging areas like North Carolina's Appalachian regions. In 2022, Zipline emerged as the first company to obtain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for long-range drone delivery in the US, paving the way for further expansion. The company's North Carolina distribution center services a sprawling 7,800-square-mile area, and it also designs, tests, and manufactures Zips in .

Zipline's retail segment, once seen as a niche within a niche, has now turned into a significant growth driver. The company's capability to handle peak order times — from delivering lunch orders for Sweetgreen to dispensing Walmart prescriptions — sets it apart in the industry. It has so far made 540,000 deliveries, outperforming the combined delivery counts of Alphabet and .

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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