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You could be forgiven for thinking that all this talk of drones
has just been an excuse to make elaborate adverts
Certainly, though, if you believe the hype, it won't be long before
drones are doing a lot more than just dropping off
Amazon's Prime Air, for example, promises to one day deliver
packages to customers within 30 minutes or less.
That's if they can make machines safe and convince the commons
Despite the promise, so far, drones have pretty much been
constrained to wacky research project, and wacky racecourses.
It feels to me that we are still waiting to see them come
out of the laboratories and into the wild to
So, where do you think we are going to go for
No. MIT, Boston?
No. Dan Simmons is in Rwanda.
This drone has beaten the biggest names in tech and retail to become
the world's first to offer an ongoing commercial delivery
I hung out with the guys in the run-up to the launch,
and learned some of the secrets of how they did it.
Don't let the West Coast looks fool you - these guys
have engineered stuff for SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Google.
They operate like the marines in freshers week.
Yes, there will be mishaps, but they are focused.
Second, don't use a chopper, quadcopter or anything else
Fixed wing goes further, faster and is more robust.
Right now we have a range of 150 kilometres, round-trip.
It allows us to carry a bigger payload and it allows us to fly
So we can fly in up to very high winds.
To get it off the ground, an elastic rubber cord is wound up
and then catapults the drone from zero to 80kph
Once it's clear, two propellers click in, taking it up
Now, the pilot is the on-board computer.
It is following a very precise GPS called an RTK GTS.
It gives us precision up to several centimetres, so every time a plane
is going out for a mission, it gets a new set of SD cards
with a new mission, and then additionally,
these SD cards become a black box of the vehicle -
things like airspeed, ground speed, temperature of internal components,
So if we are off a metre or two in one direction,
all things we can feed back into the engineering process.
If you are off one metre or two in one direction,
It is the preflight handle, the preflight handle impact buffer,
Next trick, don't land the thing to drop off the package,
When over its target, these barn doors open
and four rubber bands ping the cargo out of the hold,
which hopefully has one of these attached.
as it went over, but something happened and it hasn't worked.
Zip dips to make the drop, but will not do so if it
It will try ten times before it aborts the mission and goes home.
It comes down on what was not a brilliantly operational parachute,
I guess, looks like it has come apart.
They don't need to worry about the environmental impact
This is the blood that will be used by surgeons,
possibly to save somebody's life, and as you can see,
I expect when we open it, it will be perfectly usable.
You have a unique set of challenges in terms of blood
and delivering other kinds of medical products,
Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills,
it can be a hard place to get around.
We realised it was a place where we could move quickly and do
something for the first time in the world, but also a place
where the need was very high for something like Zip.
While pizza delivery schemes may struggle to justify
the cost of using drones, saving the lives of mothers
after childbirth, or road accident victims, is something
So you actually move the patient, sometimes, rather than actually get
the blood to the patient, because it is quicker?
Now, the doctor just needs to send a text.
The government pays us for each and every flight
we do but the really cool thing is that these flights are actually
about equal or a little less expensive than the way
they were currently doing these deliveries,
It's always useful to get yourself a friendly government
Rwanda has form - it had fibre broadband ten years ago,
was first in Africa to 4G, and the biggest investor
We cannot figure out all of the right answers before we start.
At the same time, we look at what is at stake,
Why have you made different rules for this project?
I don't think we have made rules for this project,
And what we are setting up for is really an environment
which will allow many drones companies to come and
operate on a commercial basis, even experiment.
Zips fly below passenger plane airspace, and must
report their position over the cell network,
back to the nest and to air traffic control.
And the final tip for drone delivery success, bring it home safely.
Zipline plucks its drones from the sky, like they are landing
The wire goes up, and the hook at the back of the zip catches...
Together with local residents, I looked on, and could not help
but admire what this team has achieved,
The system relies on one team from the US, so expansion
to an ever-increasing waiting list of African countries
The drop needs an open but secure target area.
We can have a plane ready to fly in less than five minutes.
And given drones are more infamous for dropping munitions,
seeing the military take an interest made me feel uneasy.
Although the technology minister told me that is not the plan.
What's happened here is a milestone, a commercially viable drone delivery
service has been talked about for years, and now finally,
this crack squad have made the drop.
This ethereal visitor makes an appearance in Mark Pritchard's
Director Michal Marczak tells us what technology technology he's been
using to create this haunting, rather alien vision.
What I liked about the track is that it was really melancholic.
But the vocals of Thom Yorke, they kind of exude a kind of sadness
but at the same time something positive comes out of them.
What could aliens in the future do to simulate a face?
We thought it would be cool to have this utility fog.
With thousands of one or two atom particles which can assemble
into any form or shape, with a swarm intelligence.
So we kind of thought that we would do these little
metallic, hundreds of thousands of metallic particles,
We hacked a Kinect, that is what we used
so we had to develop a technique to mellow it all out,
it does not handle spikes, which are associated
And then to turn that into a strong message,
which we can then simulate with particle simulation.
To get the right shot, it was a couple of days of work.
I can't wait for that moment where you can have the camera,
there, and augmented reality of what I am getting,
and really playing the visual effects of reality, and so this
particle selection is reflecting off the light at this moment,
something in the background is matching it and then are adding
That is it for your short version this week. The full-length version
is on a player right now. You can follow us on Twitter throughout the
week for loads of backstage photos and fun. Thank you for watching. We
will see you soon.