U2 frontman Bono gets in on drone delivery craze

U2 frontman Bono is now a driving force in the drone industry.

The musician just joined the board of Zipline, a drone delivery company focusing on medical deliveries, primarily in Rwanda and Ghana, as first reported by Fast Company.

“They’re making distance disappear,” Bono said in the Fast Company interview. “And they put people at the center of their commercial model, which I think is also something we think about a lot in The Rise Fund—that commerce should serve people and not the other way around.”

Image Courtesy Zipline

Zipline first made waves in October 2016, when it delivered medical supplies in Rwanda. Health workers could send a text message to Zipline requesting medical supplies that were located in Zipline’s distribution hub. Zipline says customers then received those drone deliveries in 30 minutes on average. Their drones dropped off the supplies through a dropping mechanism, so the drones always took off and landed at Zipline’s distribution centers.

Bono has been involved in a number of philanthropic measurers related to public health and the environment, including co-founding One, an organization that works to fight preventable disease and extreme poverty, co-founding AIDs fundraising group Product Red, and co-founding The Rise Fund. His involvement with Zipline comes by way of The Rise Fund, which is an impact investing fund looking to invest in companies creating “measurable positive social and environmental change.” The Rise Fund, which is a $2 billion venture capital fund, invested in Zipline this May.

“The reason we were really excited to have Bono join was that we’re basically going to be working together to try to bend the arc of justice and help the planet transition in small ways toward systems that serve people equally,” Zipline’s CEO, Keller Rinaudo said in an interview with Fast Company. “Basically, stop making excuses about why we can’t serve these families.”

A Zipline drone flying in Northern California. Photo by Sally French

Unlike drone delivery companies like Flytrex, Google’s Wing, Flirtey or Amazon which promise speedy deliveries on consumer goods and even hot food, Zipline has focused its delivery efforts entirely on medical deliveries.

Zipline now has six distribution centers between the two countries of Rwanda and (as of April) Ghana and has delivered more than 170 different vaccines, blood products, and medications to 2,500 health facilities serving close to 22 million people.

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