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Drone startup Zipline hits 1 million deliveries, looks to restaurants as it continues to grow

Zipline, an autonomous delivery drone startup, announced on Friday that it has made one million deliveries to customers and is looking for restaurant collaborations in its next phase of expansion.

The San Francisco-based business creates and runs autonomous delivery drones for over 4,700 hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic, as well as large brands like Walmart and GNC. It has raised over $500 million from investors such as Sequoia Capital, a16z, and Google Ventures. Zipline is a CNBC Disruptor 50 business.

The company stated that its zero-emission drones have now flown over 70 million autonomous commercial miles over four continents, delivering over 10 million products.

The one millionth delivery transported two bags of IV fluid from a Zipline distribution center in Ghana to a local health facility.

As the company expands, it will add Panera Bread in Seattle, Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, and Jet’s Pizza in Detroit.

Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo Cliffton told CNBC that 70% of the company’s deliveries had occurred in the last two years, and the goal for the future is to make 1 million deliveries each day.

“The three areas where the incentive really makes the most sense today are health care, quick commerce and food, and those are the three main markets that we focus on,” Cliffton added. “Our goal is to work with really the best brands or the best institutions in each of those markets.”

He described the push into restaurant partnerships as a “obvious transition” due to the growing popularity of rapid food delivery. Zipline already delivers food from Walmart to customers.

“We need to start using vehicles that are light, fast, autonomous, and zero-emission,” Rinaudo Cliffton stated. “This method of delivery is 10 times faster and cheaper… In comparison to the standard delivery apps that most restaurants will use, we quadruple the service radius, which means you receive ten times the amount of consumers that can be reached via instant delivery.

Zipline deliveries to some Panera stores in Seattle are planned to begin next year, according to the franchisee’s Chief Operating Officer, Ron Bellamy. He stated that delivery continues to expand for its firm, especially in an inflationary climate. Zipline costs are expected to be comparable to third-party delivery, he added, with the goal of lowering those costs over time.

“I’m encouraged about it, not just even in terms of what I can do for the business, but as a consumer, I think at the end of the day, if it is economical, and it delivers a better overall experience, then the consumer will speak,” Bellamy said in an interview.



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