Ann Arbor-based Llamasoft partners with Zipline to save lives

Zipline's drone deliveries will be boosted by Llamasoft's supply chain software

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Credit: Zipline

ANN ARBOR - Ann Arbor based software company Llamasoft has partnered with logistics company Zipline, which uses drones to drop medical supplies in remote locations in Africa.

The companies paired together to optimize the use of drones in the public health space, relying on Llamasoft's ability to optimize supply chain networks.

Silicon Valley based Zipline has been active in Rwanda in coordination with the Ministry of Health delivering medical supplies via drones.

"People have been trying to solve the logistics problem in these remote areas of these countries with motorcycles and trucks for decades. And fundamentally, when you have dirt road infrastructure and a lack of bridges and, you know, nine months of the year as a rainy season, its just not possible to get a high reliability delivery network running," co-founder & CTO Keenan Wyrobek told Danish non-profit Design to Improve Life.

Zipline won the organization's INDEX: Award this year for their sustainable and life-improving design.

“There’s a paradigm shift in the thinking that all artificial intelligence will start in rich countries and trickle down to poor countries,” Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo told Forbes. “African nations are showing the world how it’s done.”

With help from Llamasoft, Zipline has successfully expanded operations into Tanzania, making this announcement on Twitter:

Llamasoft's Global Impact Team has already worked with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Medical Stores Department for four years on supply chain projects to improve the ministry's transportation routes.  

"We've been helping the ministries of health answer questions like how many warehouses they need, where they need to put them, [and] how to ensure medicines are in stock at health facilities," Sid Rupani, LLamasoft's IMEA regional director told Concentrate. "We examine transportation routes, the frequencies of deliveries, the capacities of the trucks, and all these other quantitative questions about how to set up the supply chain."

According to Rupani, his company's relationship with Zipline began two years ago. He saw an opportunity for a partnership because the timing felt right.

The two companies collaborated for a year testing operations in Rwanda. They found blood deliveries that once took 3-4 hours by car, only took 15-30 minutes using a drone. The implications of this were huge, not just from the live-saving aspect, but the fact that it saves enormous amounts of time, energy and fuel costs incurred on the delivery company.

Although Zipline cannot compete with the amount of supplies a car or truck can deliver (a drone can only carry three pounds - that's just a few pints of blood), it makes up for it in time, which can sometimes be the difference between life and death.  

 

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