Zipline is expanding rapidly around the world, building the first instant logistics system to serve all people equally. To enable a future where everyone has access to the products they need when they need them, Zipline must be able to fly safely in even the most complex and varied airspace around the world. This requires us to solve a fundamental technical challenge: how to detect and avoid other aircraft in the air, wherever they’re flying.
When Zipline set out to build a detect and avoid solution, we approached it by talking with our customers and drawing on the data and expertise we have accumulated from years of national scale operations. Other solutions out there failed to meet our standards for serving customers now: Ground-based systems are cumbersome and don’t work in all geographies. Camera-based systems are costly and can’t solve for common visual constraints like clouds. And systems that require new regulations or industry consensus, like universal traffic management, are years away from real use.
After years of research, development, and testing, we turned to an approach that’s been used in aviation for years - sound. We’ve created a first-of-its-kind onboard microphone based detection and avoidance system. It is small, light, and ready to be deployed at scale, anywhere our customers need us to be, without new regulations or ground infrastructure.