Zipline drones will deliver medicine to communities in Utah

It can only do deliveries in the Salt Lake Valley area for now, but it will expand its coverage over the next five years.


Zipline has teamed up with a healthcare provider servicing the Intermountain Region in the US to deliver medicine to customers using its drones. The company has started doing drone deliveries to select Intermountain Healthcare patients in the Salt Lake Valley area. For now, it can only do drops for local communities within several miles of its distribution center. Zipline intends to add more centers over the next five years, though, so it can eventually expand beyond Salt Lake Valley and deliver medicine throughout Utah.

As TechCrunch notes, Zipline has long been deploying drones for delivery in Africa, and it wasn't until the pandemic that it started doing drops in the US. In 2020, it teamed up with Novant Health to ferry personal protective gear and other types of medical equipment to frontline healthcare workers tending to COVID-19 patients in North Carolina. Later that year, it signed a deal with Walmart to deliver health and wellness supplies to customers near the retailer's headquarters in northwest Arkansas.

In June this year, the FAA authorized Zipline to conduct long range on-demand commercial drone deliveries in the US. The company said that the certification it received from the agency allows it to significantly expand its services in the country. That means we'll see it expand its covered areas with current partners and perhaps see it sign agreements with more partner companies in the future.

Intermountain Healthcare patients in the Salt Lake Valley area can now sign up for Zipline deliveries. The company will then evaluate their eligibility based on their location, their yard size — its target delivery area must be at least two parking spaces big — and their surrounding airspace. Zipline's drones are six-foot gliders with a wingspan that's 10 feet long. These drones fly 300 to 400 feet above the ground, though they drop down to an altitude of around 60 to 80 feet to deliver packages outfitted with a parachute.

Bijal Mehta, head of global fulfillment operations at Zipline, said in a statement:

"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. 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."