Toyota Tsusho Corporation (Toyota Tsusho), one of Japan’s general trading companies and a member of the Toyota Group, and Zipline, the global leader in instant logistics launched automated, on-demand deliveries of medical supplies across Japan’s Gotō Islands. Under this partnership, Toyota Tsusho is using Zipline’s instant logistics system to make routine, commercial long-distance drone deliveries in Japan.
This marks Zipline’s entry into Japan and its first-ever strategic operational partnership, in which Toyota Tsusho, via Sora-iina, a new subsidiary company created to conduct these operations, will manage its own distribution center and flight services from Fukue Port. Sora-iina’s Gotō distribution center will be the first in Asia and 14th in the world to operate Zipline’s autonomous instant logistics technology, as well as the first in the world to be operated by a partner.
Utilizing Zipline’s autonomous aircraft and end-to-end logistics technology, Sora-iina will distribute medical supplies to pharmacies and hospitals across the Gotō Islands, including to remote and isolated areas. Initial autonomous aerial deliveries will include beyond visual line of site operations up to 40 kilometers roundtrip, and enable on-demand access to hundreds of medical products. The partnership also has the potential to expand to both new communities and use cases in the future.
“The Toyota Group has a decades-long track record of excellence across transportation and logistics; now, they’re ready to take on the next frontier of mobility,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. “Together, we’re taking an important step toward unlocking the impact of autonomous instant logistics technology in new use cases, new airspaces and entirely new geographies.”
Toyota Tsusho’s new sustainable on-demand delivery service in the Gotō Islands builds on Japan’s commitment to sustainability. When compared to conventional deliveries via car or van, Zipline’s autonomous aircraft have been shown to produce 98% less carbon emissions.
Today’s launch is the culmination of a longstanding partnership between Toyota Tsusho and Zipline, which began with Toyota Tsusho’s investment in Zipline in June 2018. The companies have also partnered in Ghana, where Zipline delivers medical products from Gokals-Laborex Limited—Toyota Tsusho Group’s pharmaceutical distributor—to hospitals across the country.