Zipline is one step closer to achieving its mission of building the first autonomous delivery system that serves all people equally. At 1pm on Friday, November 17, 2023, we completed our first U.S. BVLOS flight in Salt Lake City, Utah. The ability to fly without visual observers on the ground along flight routes is a result of meeting the rigorous safety requirements laid out by the FAA and a major step towards drone delivery at scale across the United States.
Zipline’s onboard perception system has been tested by flying tens of thousands of real-world miles around the globe and has been designed to operate with the highest level of safety. Just an hour after getting the news from the FAA that they’ve approved Zipline as a drone delivery operator using this perception system, Zipline flew its Platform 1 aircraft without the previously-required visual observers.
The company will now be flying in Utah without this requirement and will soon expand that approach across its U.S. operations.
“Earlier this year Zipline became the first company in U.S. history to receive approval from the FAA to leverage an onboard perception system to enable autonomous long-distance drone delivery flights, and today, we made history doing just that,” said Okeoma Moronu, Zipline’s Head of Global Aviation Regulatory Affairs. “This means that Zipline can now go from serving a few thousand homes to serving hundreds of thousands of homes within the U.S. This is widely considered the holy grail of approvals for scaling drone delivery operations. We thank the FAA for their leadership and support throughout this process.”
The company has hundreds of Platform 1 drones in its fleet and makes about 10,000 commercial deliveries each week. Zipline’s Platform 1 system has been operating at scale across 7 countries, currently completing a delivery every 70 seconds. The company has already made more than 815,000 customer deliveries to date and will be deploying its Platform 2 system, built to serve more urban areas, in 2024.
To learn more about the significance of this moment, read a blog from COO Liam O’Connor, Zipline’s press release upon receiving FAA approval, or a deep-dive on Zipline’s Detect and Avoid system.